[JURIST] Sri Lankan and visiting UN officials disagreed publicly Saturday on how to approach the country's worsening human rights situation in the midst of ongoing civil conflict. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] said at a news conference she would support a possible UNOHCHR monitoring mission as urged by activists. Sri Lankan Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, however, immediately rejected that option. saying the government would not allow such a presence but would work with the UN on the problem. Arbour emphasized the need for unbiased monitoring of possible rights violations, saying:
there has yet to be an adequate and credible public accounting for the vast majority of these incidents...In the absence of more vigorous investigations, prosecution and convictions, it is hard to see how this will come to an end.Arbour also pointed to the need for investigation of broader human rights concerns, not just those centered around the military conflict.
Sri Lanka has been in a drawn-out conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder] rebel group for two decades, with fighting escalating in 2006. Human rights groups have pointed to abuses by both sides in the conflict, but have lately accused the government of an increased number of abuses [JURIST report]. AP has more. News.lk has official government coverage.