Lanka rejects UN rights monitoring mission

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Colombo, Oct 13: Sri Lanka rejected calls for a United Nations human rights monitoring mission to the island today, as the UN's rights chief voiced concern about widespread alleged abuses at the end of a five-day visit.

''The weakness of the rule of law and prevalence of impunity is alarming. There is a large number of reported killings, abductions and disappearances which remain unresolved,'' said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour.

''I believe that we should urgently resolve our ongoing discussions about the future of a productive relationship between OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) and the government of Sri Lanka.'' Rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed or abducted in Sri Lanka since last year, when a civil war that has killed around 70,000 people since 1983 resumed after a near four-year lull.

Around 5,000 people have been killed since early 2006 in the latest chapter of the two-decade war between the military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Elements of the military, paramilitaries and separatist Tamil Tiger rebel have all been accused of abuses. Sri Lanka says reports of abuses by its security forces are overblown and designed to tarnish its image. It has slammed foreign governments and rights groups for the criticism.

''It's a very complex situation and our position is that we are not willing to discuss a UN presence in Sri Lanka and neither opening an office of Human Rights in Sri Lanka,'' said Human Rights minister Mahida Samarasinghe.

The Sri Lankan authorities did not allow Arbour to visit rebel-held territory during her trip.

''I would have liked to convey directly to the LTTE my deep concern about their violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the recruitment of children, forced recruitment and abduction of adults and political killings.'' Arbour said.


Reuters>

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