Sep 26 (): Navi Pillay, the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner has issued March 2014 ultimatum to Sri Lanka warning the island nation to show clear progress towards checking human rights abuses, to institute credible inquiry mechanisms into cases of human rights violations and investigating war crimes failing which Sri Lanka has to face an international probe.
Ms Pillay in her interim report to the UN Human Rights Commission has observed that the military presence in north Sri Lanka remains substantial even after four years since the war ended. She said that the Army is literally intruding into every sphere of socio-economic life from education to tourism. She also drew attention to the sexual abuse, the women are subjected to in women-headed families where men have died during the war, disappearances, intimidations and attacks on religious minority groups.
Navi Pillay post her week-long visit to Sri Lanka in the last half of August expressed her deep concerns that Sri Lanka, despite the opportunity provided by the end of the war to construct a new, all-embracing state, is showing signs of increased ‘authoritarianism’.
On commenting about the post-war lives of Tamils, Ms Pillay said she was extremely moved by the profound trauma she saw among the relatives of the missing and the dead, and the war survivors, in all the places she visited. This was particularly evident among those struggling to eke out a living amidst the ghosts of war-wrecked country along the lagoon in Mullaitheevu, she observed.
Stressing that Sri Lanka refuses to understand reconciliation, Pillay had remarked that wounds will not heal and reconciliation will not happen, without respect for those who suffer and remembrance for the thousands of Tamils who died on the battlefield, on the streets, or in detention camps.
Another heart-rending recall of Navi Pillay was when one wife of a missing man said that they would ‘keep a portion for her missing husband when they eat.’
In response to Pillay issuing an ultimatum, Sri Lankan ambassador to the UN, Ravinatha Aryasinha told the diplomats, that his government had put in place “multiple mechanisms to address accountability.”
Sri Lanka has been consistently maintaining that it is making good progress in the reconciliation process and rejecting the need for an international probe. Strongly criticizing Pillay’s report, Aryasinha called her claims as ‘unsubstantiated’ and ‘baseless.’
On the sidelines of the assembly, US ambassador to the Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, told AFP, “We agree with the High Commissioner that if there is no domestic progress on accountability, the call for an international investigation is warranted.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday that it was disturbing to observe “the growing interference by some”, in the internal matters of developing countries, as guardians of human rights and questioned if such movements led to produce different results.