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DateLine Thursday, 15 May 2008

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Plaudits for Lanka's Human Rights



Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe

SWITZERLAND: Sri Lanka's attempts to champion the cause of human rights amidst trying conditions, came in for high praise from the international fora, following Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Samarasinghe's speech at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) meeting on Tuesday.

News reaching Sri Lanka said the Minister's speech which garnered much interest at the forum, was acclaimed by member countries as an effort to explain matters, in a most open and transparent manner.

Before the inception of the UPR by the working group of the UNHRC, much hype was generated regarding the country's human rights record, amidst the conflict which ravaged the country for over two decades.

According to news from Geneva, many countries had expressed their satisfaction in the manner which Sri Lanka presented its case, based on facts, figures, present initiatives and the challenges ahead.

The Minister who took on questions both written and verbal during the three hour session allocated to Sri Lanka, had given a comprehensive report on several subjects, which garnered much hype in recent times both locally and internationally.

Matters such as the IIGEP withdrawal, child soldiers, elections in the East and the TMVP factor, disappearances, abductions, media freedom, safety of aid workers etc. had been discussed at length, with the Minister providing an indepth explanation on the subjects, sources said.

While noting that the conflict had acted as a catalyst for such allegations, the Minister emphasised that Sri Lanka always maintained a record of openness and constructive engagement when dealing with such matters amidst the threat posed by terrorism.

Sri Lanka's membership at the UNHCR comes up for a vote on May 21.

 

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