Sri Lanka seeks fair assessment of its human rights record

(Xinhua-ANI) The Sri Lankan government on Friday said it will seek a fair assessment of its human rights record when the UN Human Rights Council holds the Universal Periodic Review in November.

Sri Lanka’s human rights record and the measures it has taken to address some concerns will be assessed during the November meeting.

Government Minister and special human rights envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe said that at the Universal Periodic Review Sri Lanka will share the progress it has made in addressing human rights issues following the end of a 30-year war with the Tamil Tigers.

Addressing the closing day of a defense seminar in the capital on Friday attended by military officers and representatives from other countries, Samarasinghe recalled that Sri Lanka has set up military tribunals to address some accountability issues on the war.

He said that the system adopted by Sri Lanka to address these concerns was similar to that adopted by other countries when concerns are raised against their military and yet only Sri Lanka is being sidelined saying it is not doing enough.

The minister said that through a national census carried out recently Sri Lanka hopes to prove wrong the figures that around 40, 000 civilians were killed during the final stages of the war.

Sri Lanka defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009 after 30 years of fighting but the government has been accused of directly or indirectly killing thousands of civilians in an attempt to end the war as soon as possible.

Following the war, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had appointed a panel of experts to advise him on Sri Lanka and the panel released a report which mostly criticized the government.

Samarasinghe however said the report was questionable especially since there was no record of those used as witnesses to gather information.

"The UN panel gave 20 years anonymity to the witnesses," Samarasinghe recalled.

However at the same time he reiterated that the Sri Lankan government was not questioning the prerogative of the UN Chief to appoint a panel to advise him on Sri Lanka.

He also urged the international community to arrest the campaign of misinformation being spread by some members of the Tamil Diaspora which he says could harm Sri Lanka’s peace initiatives. (Xinhua-ANI)

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