UN Rights Committee reviews Sri Lanka

The UN Human Rights Committee, which began reviewing Sri Lanka’s respect for rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), questioned the Government on the steps it has taken to address several concerns.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha, in his opening statement said that Sri Lanka has utmost respect for human rights.

He said that terrorism remains a major concern in Sri Lanka and so there was a need to continue with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

Committee member Yuji Iwasawa expressed disappointment with the Sri Lankan Government’s lack of cooperation on individual communications procedures, particularly follow-up action.

He also noted that the Sri Lanka national action plan promised action on right to privacy and right to information and so asked for an update on what Sri Lanka has done to realize these promises.UN human rights committee

“Contrary to the Sri Lanka Government’s claims, there is persistent surveillance and intimidation of former LTTE cadres,” Iwasawa further added.

Committee member Ms Anja Seibert-Fohr, in her statement during the review, said that reports show that enforced disappearances continue in Sri Lanka.

She noted that there are reports that the military, police and paramilitary are involved in ‘white van’ abductions and questioned the Government on the steps it is taking to address those concerns.

Yuval Shany, in his statement noted that there are alleged chronic problems of accountability in Sri Lanka and questioned the Government on action taken, if any, to respond to allegations raised in the Channel 4 documentary and the UN Experts Panel report on Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan delegation later said that the 18th Amendment to the constitution cured the infirmities of the constitutional council and ensures the steady management of the relevant bodies.

Sri Lanka also assured that all those detained under the PTA Act can challenge it using habeas corpus. The Government also rejected allegations that there are ineffective remedies, in particular habeas corpus. (Colombo Gazette)

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