UN delays Sri Lanka human rights report for six months
COLOMBO(EconomyNext) – The United Nations had delayed a report into human rights violations in Sri Lanka until September, giving time for the island’s newly elected regime to cooperate with the organization.
"This has been a difficult decision," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement.
"I give my personal, absolute and unshakable commitment that the report will be published by September.
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had sought a deferral of the report.
"There are good arguments for sticking to the original timetable, and there are also strong arguments for deferring the report’s consideration a bit longer, given the changing context in Sri Lanka, and the possibility that important new information may emerge which will strengthen the report.
"In addition, I have received clear commitments from the new Government of Sri Lanka indicating it is prepared to cooperate with my Office on a whole range of important human rights issues – which the previous Government had absolutely refused to do – and I need to engage with them to ensure those commitments translate into reality."
He said three experts appointed to look into Sri Lanka had also agreed with his recommendation for a six month delay, as it would allow the new administration time to co-operate in improving human rights of citizens.
"Taking all this into account, I have therefore decided, on balance, to request more time to allow for a stronger and more comprehensive report," Zeid.
"I am acutely aware that many victims of human rights violations in Sri Lanka, including those who have bravely come forward to provide information to the inquiry team, might see this is as the first step towards shelving, or diluting, a report they have long feared they would never see.
"I fully understand those fears and deep anxieties, given the history of failed or obstructed domestic human rights inquiries in Sri Lanka, and the importance of this international investigation being carried out by my team at the UN Human Rights Office."
"Like my predecessors, I believe that one of the most important duties of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is to act as a strong voice on behalf of victims.
"I want this report to have the maximum possible impact in ensuring a genuine and credible process of accountability and reconciliation in which the rights of victims to truth, justice and reparations are finally respected."