The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

India backs Lanka in UN human rights review

India fully backed Sri Lanka in the just-concluded UN human rights review in Geneva, enabling its troubled neighbour to get a “balanced” appraisal from the world body on Tuesday.

The appraisal has raised hopes in Sri Lanka that it will be re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

While most of the Western countries attacked Sri Lanka on its rights record, citing arbitrary arrests, abductions, involuntary disappearances, mass displacement and even complicity in child recruitment by a pro-government militia, India mentioned only the positive aspects of the Sri Lankan situation.

The Indian delegate, Rajiv Kumar Chander, described Sri Lanka as a “close and friendly neighbour,” which maintained its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and played an “active role” in the Human Rights Council.

Ignoring Sri Lanka’s running battle with many UN agencies that it accused of being pro-LTTE, the Indian delegate said Sri Lanka’s cooperation with the UN system had been “noteworthy.”

India found Sri Lanka’s argument that its laws were compatible with international conventions in human and labour rights, “useful,” Chander said. He praised Colombo for appointing a steering group to draft a bill of rights, but wanted to know more about what was being done to build bridges across ethnic groups through language teaching.

India was silent on the issue of implementing the devolution package envisaged in the 13th amendment of Sri Lanka’s constitution to solve the Tamil-Sinhalese political problem even though it was enacted under Indian pressure in 1987. Interestingly, Pakistan, which is viewed in Sri Lanka as a closer friend, wanted to know whether there was any progress in its implementation.

A report from Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission in Geneva said that over half the 56 delegations that participated in the review praised Colombo for protecting human rights while fighting terrorism. They were impressed with Sri Lanka’s frankness about its inadequacies and appreciated its desire to build capacity with UN help.

Sri Lanka was even able to justify its rejection of a UN proposal to set up a monitoring station on the island to report to the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights. The Sri Lankan Minister for Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said the need of the hour was not UN monitoring but indigenous capacity-building with international help.

Samarasinghe also said that the membership of the UN Human Rights Council should not be restricted to those countries with a clean record.

Source: newindpress

27 killed in Lanka clashes

At least 22 LTTE cadres and four soldiers were among 27 people killed in intense clashes in the embattled Northern Sri Lanka, officials said on Tuesday.

One civilian was shot dead by suspected LTTE cadre yesterday in Vavuniya, the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said.

While two tiger rebels were shot dead in Kasawalpuliyankulam area in Vavuniya on Monday, two more militants were killed in Palamipiddi in the region, it said.

In a separate incident, unidentified gunmen shot dead a civilian at Badulu junction in Eastern Batticaloa on Monday, it added.

Fierce clashes between army and the LTTE in several areas of North-eastern Welioya also left five tiger militants dead on Monday, according to the MCNS.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry said at least 12 LTTE cadres were killed and 21 others injured in counter-terrorist operations against LTTE in Periyamadu, Mullikulam and Palampiddi in Vavuniya on Monday.

Three soldiers also lost their lives during these clashes, it said, adding, one security force personnel was killed during clashes in Kiribbanwewa area of Welioya on Monday.

Source: Hindu