Asian group faults UN rights chief for silence on Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Saturday, 13 March 2010, 14:35 GMT]
Noting that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is "mandated to promote and protect human rights for all," and therefore, "the OHCHR [should] lead global human rights efforts to speak out objectively in the face of human rights violations worldwide," the Hong Kong-based Asian Center for Human Rights (ACHR) said in its weekly review that "UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay has failed to adequately address grave human rights violations in Sri Lanka, not least in the final days of the war with the LTTE."

The ACHR welcomed the position of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon "who once again reiterated on 9 March 2010 his intension to establish an expert panel to advise him on “setting the broad parameters and standards on the way ahead on establishing accountability” for alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka during the conflict between the government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)."

The ACHR report said that "the High Commissioner Navi Pillay issued only one statement on 13th March 2009 but said nothing more until the end of the war on 19 May 2009 when worst violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law took place.

"Her [Navi Pillay's] statement on 4 March 2010 at the ongoing 13th session of the UN Human Rights Council that “Sri Lanka should undertake a full reckoning of the grave violations committed by all sides during the war” was too little, too late," said the ACHR.

The ACHR further complained that the High Commissioner said "nothing on the detention of quarter of a million internally displaced persons by the Sri Lankan authorities and persecution of journalists and human rights defenders in that country even after the end of the war."

ACHR said that while it is troubling that the impending fifth year review of the OHCHR has the prospect of "turning OCHR into a UNDP type agency - with its mandate of engagement with the government at any price... Navi Pillay must take the leadership before it is too late."


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External Links:
ACHR: OHCHR’s Damning Silence: It needs a new approach to speak out
OHCHR: Address by Ms. Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - Introduction of the Annual Report, 4 March 2010, Geneva

 

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