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UN rights chief hails steps taken by Lankan govt. in key commitments

United Nations (U.N.) High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra

Geneva : Stating that the steps taken by the Sri Lankan government to implement some of the key commitments made in United Nations Resolution last year are encouraging, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that more rapid and sustained progress could have been made on some other issues.

“Overall, the Human Rights Council should be encouraged thus far by the steps that the Government of Sri Lanka has taken to implement some of the key commitments made in Resolution 30/1, and the consultations and preparations now underway to further elaborate and design the transitional justice mechanisms,” Colombo Page quoted Hussein as saying.

The High Commissioner in its report on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka listed the restoration of the Constitutional Council, an independent Human Rights Commission and the ratification of the Disappearances Convention (CED) as important achievements that will leave a legacy for the future.

“Nonetheless, the establishment of full transitional justice mechanisms will be needed to provide a comprehensive response to past human rights violations and ensure that they do not reccur,” the report said.

He also noted more rapid and sustained progress could have been made on issues, such as the release of land and detainees and the revision of the PTA and witness protection laws, which would build confidence with the minority community.

“The early momentum established in investigating emblematic cases must be sustained, as early successful prosecutions would mark a turning point from the impunity of the past. Continuing allegations of arbitrary arrest, torture and sexual violence, as well as more general military surveillance and harassment, must be swiftly addressed, and the structures and institutional culture that promoted those practices be dismantled, to show there will be no tolerance for practices of the past,” he said.

He urged the lankan Government to take “concrete steps to address the impatience, anxiety and reservations towards the process that stem from various quarters.

Hussein reiterated that his office (OHCHR) will continue to stand ready to provide further advice and technical assistance. (ANI)

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