Upholding human rights
PRESIDENT Mahinda Rajapaksa and
his Government have received encomiums in Geneva for their
commitment to human rights, despite a malicious propaganda
campaign launched by various elements including the LTTE.
In his meetings with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Louis Arbour and International Human Rights Council Luis
Alfonso, President Rajapaksa has outlined the measures taken by
the Government to protect human rights and investigate cases of
Alfonso in particular has appreciated steps taken by the Sri
Lanka Government to not only appoint a Presidential Commission
to probe human rights violations but also to permit an
international panel of eminent persons to be present as
It is true that we live in extraordinary times, with the
State battling a ruthless terrorist outfit not only on the
battlefield but also in the field of propaganda. No country
fighting a terrorist group can claim to have a 100 per cent
perfect human rights record as civilian liberties are affected
to some extent in such an environment.
But it is incumbent upon the State to preserve and protect
human rights to the greatest possible extent and probe any
rights violations swiftly.
These are just the steps the Government is taking. There
should also be no hesitation on the part of the authorities to
admit any shortcomings in these processes. The Prime Minister
has expressed regret for transporting Tamil-speaking lodgers to
Similarly, the authorities have taken cognisance of the
International Independent Group of Eminent Persons’ Interim
Report, which criticised some aspects of the Presidential
Commission probing several high-profile cases of rights
President Rajapaksa has also set up a 24-hour unit to deal
with complaints on abductions and disappearances.
Special attention is being paid to catch the killers of the
two Red Cross workers whose bodies were found recently in
Ratnapura, as explained by the President to top Red Cross
officials in Geneva.
Security Forces and Police personnel serving in operational
and non-operational areas are also being educated on the
importance of protecting fundamental rights.
The Human Rights Commission has started a pilot project for
inculcating the concept of human rights among schoolchildren,
our future leaders.
It is only through such an all-encompassing programme that we
can ensure a society which upholds and protects human rights.