Sri Lanka’s measures to combat terrorism disregarded human rights, UN HR Commissioner says

Sept 12, Geneva: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay said Sri Lanka is an example of a state that disregarded the human rights when adopting countermeasures to combat terrorism while head of the Sri Lankan delegation accused the UN Human Rights Council of deviating from established procedures.

In her address to the 18th regular session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Ms. Pillay, who is critical of Sri Lanka’s war against terrorism, said the countermeasures adopted by States to combat terrorism have frequently been designed with insufficient regard for human rights.

“This has all too often led to an erosion of rights and fostered a culture of diffidence and discrimination which, in turn, perpetuates cycles of violence and retribution,” Ms. Pillay said taking Sri Lanka as one such case.

“For three decades, not only has that country suffered the brutal effects of terrorist acts, but the response of successive governments over the years has undermined independent institutions, human rights and the rule of law,” she added.

Although she noted the Sri Lankan President’s decision to lapse the country’s emergency laws that were in existence on and off for three decades, Ms. Pillay strongly urged the government to follow up with a comprehensive review of all security-related legislation and detentions.

Head of the Sri Lankan delegation to the HRC session, Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed concern over the growing trend in the Human Rights Council to depart from well-established principles of procedures in the conduct of the affairs of the Council.

He criticized the failure on the part of the High Commissioner to inform the concerned State, Sri Lanka, regarding a report about Sri Lanka that was transmitted between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General.

The Government had pledged that as the situation gradually improved, it would make adjustments, refinements and policy changes to reflect a challenging environment. The Government had directed efforts to participate in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2012 and welcomed all friends and partners to engage in that dialogue.

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