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HRC seeks clarity over Sri Lanka vote -The Times(SA)

[MISC, Sunday, 7 June 2009 09:07 No Comment]

The Human Rights Commission has asked the government to explain why its UN representative voted against a call for an international investigation into suspected atrocities in Sri Lanka.

This week commission chairman Jody Kollapen wrote to the minister of international relations and cooperation, Maite Nkoane-Mashabane, asking why the position taken by the SA representative on the UN Human Rights Council differed from the government position.

South Africa recently supported a call by Judge Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, for an investigation into the atrocities.

In his letter Kollapen says: “ The SA government issued a statement that the Human Rights Council ‘urgently investigates possible violations of international human rights law and contraventions of the Geneva Convention’.

“This was not supported by the SA representative when the matter came before council last week.”

In recent weeks the Sri Lanka government has carried out an offensive to finally defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels who launched their separatist struggle in 1983. Both sides have been accused of human rights abuses.

Kollapen said South Africa had always played a role in trying to mediate the conflict.

“What was concerning was South Africa supported the resolution that would not see any investigation. It was in contradiction to the statement issued by the South African government.

“On one hand the government is saying there should be an investigation, but on the international forum it’s not consistent in taking the same stance. We are asking the government for an explanation for the contradictory stances,” said Kollapen.

Thangam Jogianna, secretary of the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee of SA, said: “This leads us to question the role of South Africa. .. and whether our government would take a stand regarding the violation of the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka.”

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