UN rights chief reprimands Sri Lanka government

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website; JURIST news archive] reprimanded the Sri Lankan government on Saturday during her opening remarks [press release] at a press conference during her week-long mission to Sri Lanka. Although she acknowledged the achievements made by the Sri Lankan government in terms of resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation since the end of its 26-year civil war [JURIST backgrounder] with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder], Pillay stated that physical reconstruction alone "will not bring reconciliation, dignity, or lasting peace." Pillay has expressed particular concern with the curtailment and denial of personal freedoms and human rights, claiming these limitations threaten democracy and the rule of law in the country.

The UN and other international human rights groups have urged Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes committed during its civil war with the LTTE. Earlier this week, at the beginning of her visit, Pillay pledged to raise concerns [JURIST report] with the government's human rights record, particularly with regard to alleged war crimes against ethnic Tamils. In May Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said that there has been no progress [JURIST report] regarding respect for basic rights and liberties in the four years since the end of the country's civil war. In March the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution [JURIST report] to promote reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. In February Sri Lankan authorities were accused of using rape [JURIST report] as a method of interrogating members or supporters of the LTTE. Earlier that same month the UN criticized Sri Lanka for failing to investigate war crimes, and HRW pushed [JURIST reports] for an independent investigation of rights abuses.

 

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