UN High Commissioner for Human Rights hails President's initiatives
GENEVA: The High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour speaking
at the opening of the third session of the Human Rights Council,
welcomed the initiative taken by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in
establishing the Independent International Group of Eminent Persons and
the appointment of the Commission of Inquiry to probe killings and
In her up date Arbour stated: "I am pleased to note the fruitful
cooperation between the Government and my Office with regard to this
initiative and welcome the incorporation of the majority of OHCHR's
suggestions into the terms of reference.
I hope the Commission of Inquiry will prove effective in bringing the
perpetrators of serious human rights violations to justice.
I would also like to reiterate my Office's readiness to assist the
Government of Sri Lanka in addressing the protection of human rights and
in particular the protection of civilians, who have continued to be the
primary victims of recent violence".
The delegation of Finland on behalf of the European Union, Japan, the
Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland also welcomed
the President's initiative in appointing the National Commission of
Inquiry and the IIGEP. Canada, the UK and the Netherlands stated they
will be making nominations of experts for the IIGEP soon.
Sarala Fernando, Permanent Representative of the Sri Lanka Mission to
the United Nations in Geneva, on behalf of the Sri Lankan delegation to
the Human Rights Council Sessions in Geneva, responding to the update of
the High Commissioner and to the comments made by other delegations,
thanked the High Commissioner for her up date and appreciated her
statement on November 6 welcoming the establishment of the IIGEP and her
encouraging remarks during this session.
The Ambassador reiterated that the Government has always remained
fully committed to further peace talks with the LTTE without
She said "it is our hope that the international community will
strengthen our hand by applying pressure on the LTTE to change its
violent ways and to come into a negotiated settlement within the
contours of democracy.
As a democracy since independence, Sri Lanka has always been
reproached, hence Sri Lanka stands by its pledge to brief the Council in
a comprehensive manner.
Efforts continue towards formulating a Constitutional framework for a
Quoting the Foreign Minister, the Ambassador stated "there is some
cause for optimism because for the first time, President Rajapaksa is
working on finding consensus of everyone through the All Party
Conference and a Committee of Experts to find a solution ... For the
first time, there is a window of opportunity and the UNP (Opposition)
leader has stated that his support will be forthcoming in resolving the
Replying to a statement made by the Swiss delegation with regard to
child recruitment by the Karuna Group, the Ambassador reminded the Swiss
delegation not to divert attention from the fact that the main offender
on child soldiers has been identified by the UN, by the listing of the
LTTE as amongst the worst offenders in the world.
The Ambassador referred to the request made to Allan Rock to provide
any evidence on the issue of alleged support being extended to the
Karuna Group and referred to the Government's zero tolerance policy on
Commenting on the humanitarian access, Fernando stated that the
Government continues to provide essential supplies by its own efforts to
all people affected by the conflict.
She referred to the Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Systems
which was established by the Government and all stakeholders including
UN agencies and ICRC.
She stated that President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced his intention
to open the Muhamalai entry/exist point at A9 highway to enable the
transport of essential supplies to the Jaffna Peninsula.
She pointed out that the Government has recently proposed the
creation of safe places for internally displaced persons in Vakarai and
the Government continues to receive and provide shelter for large
numbers of persons escaping from LTTE controlled areas in the East.
Replying to the delegation of Canada which expressed concern on
200,000 IDPs, the Ambassador replied that only a few weeks ago that
300,000 persons in Sri Lanka were displaced by the seasonal floods which
might have been put into the perspective figures on IDPs that are often
She also stated that the Government, through its own resources, had
taken care of these persons, arranged shelter and food for them and even
financial assisted them to reconstruct their damaged homes upon their