New UN rights chief urges Sri Lanka to cooperate with probe

Highlighting the “great importance” of the investigation on Sri Lanka mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, its new chief has encouraged the government to cooperate with the process, in the interests of justice and reconciliation.

In the opening statement he is due to make at the 27th session of the UNHRC on September 8, the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein expressed alarm at “threats” currently being levelled against the human rights community in Sri Lanka.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-HusseinHe also deplored the recent incitement and violence against the country’s Muslim and Christian minorities

“Moreover, I attach great importance to the investigation on Sri Lanka mandated by this Council, on which OHCHR will report later in the session.”

“I encourage the Sri Lankan authorities to cooperate with this process in the interests of justice and reconciliation.

“I am alarmed at threats currently being levelled against the human rights community in Sri Lanka, as well as prospective victims and witnesses. I also deplore recent incitement and violence against the country’s Muslim and Christian minorities,” he said.

The 27th regular session of the Human Rights Council will be held from 08 to 26 September 2014 in Geneva.

The session will open at 9 a.m. on Monday 8 September with an address by the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who will update the Council on the activities of his Office.

An oral update from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Sri Lanka as a follow up to its resolution adopted in March establishing a commission of inquiry will be made on 24 September 2014. urges Sri Lanka to cooperate with probe

Sri Lanka has openly said it hoped the new UNHRC chief will carry out his duties in a “more balanced” manner after the country had an uneasy relationship with his predecessor Navi Pillay.

Al-Hussein, first Arab Muslim to hold the post, replaces former High Commissioner Pillay, a Tamil of South African origin, who was often viewed as hostile to the island nation by the Sri Lankan government.

Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters that the government’ position on Pillay has been no secret and expressed hope that Al-Hussein’s tenure would be impartial.

Prince Zeid was sworn in before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday.

He assumed his new position last Monday to be the seventh individual to lead the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).