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Navi Pillay warns Lanka for reprisals against rights defenders

Navi Pillay warns Lanka for reprisals against rights defenders

Colombo: Days after her visit to Sri Lanka, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay on Monday put the country on notice against reprisals targeting human rights defenders, journalists and communities whom she had met.

Ms. Pillay’s statement is her first official statement to the United Nations since her visit to Sri Lanka last month and refers to human rights status in some 20 countries, including Lanka.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights was addressing the 24th session of the UNHRC in Geneva which got underway on Monday.

Ms. Pillay said that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights is before the Council at the current session.

It refers to cases of alleged reprisals, or intimidation, against persons as a result of such cooperation, from June 16, 2012 to June 15, 2013.

“I will be reporting on my observations later in the session, but wish to stress my immediate concern for the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and communities I met during my visit from any reprisal, intimidation or attack,” she said.

Ms. Pillay told the council on Monday that that she was grateful to the government of Sri Lanka for facilitating her recent comprehensive visit, which allowed her to assess the progress being made towards reconstruction, reconciliation and accountability in the aftermath of the war, as well as the broader human rights situation, including religious intolerance, governance and the rule of law.

Ms. Pillay had raised similar concerns and slammed Sri Lanka’s rights record during the end of her visit.

The government had responded by saying that if there were such concerns of reprisals, it should be backed with evidence to be investigated.

Ms. Pillay also warned that Sri Lanka was fast becoming an authoritarian regime.

Ms. Pillay arrived here on August 25 on a week-long visit to begin a fact-finding mission on the alleged war crimes by the military during the nearly three-decade-long conflict with the LTTE.

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