UN team leaves; Pillay coming later this year
A fact-finding mission from the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner yesterday left the country after setting the stage for a visit by High Commissioner Navanethem Pillay later this year. The External Affairs Ministry has confirmed that Ms. Pillay would be here later this year.
A UN spokesperson in Colombo said the delegation’s visit which was a follow up to the US-backed resolution at the Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier this year would submit its report to Ms. Pillay.
“They met External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem and Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and civil society and non-governmental organisation members,” the spokesperson said.
The Sunday Times learns that the delegation gathered information on the humanitarian situation in the North, the reconciliation and resettlement processes, the progress of demining and development activities.
During a meeting with a delegation from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) led by its leader R. Sampanthan, TNA members had expressed concern about resettling people from outside the north within the Northern Province and the heavy military presence in the North. They also raised issues about the failure to complete the resettlement process and the failure to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.
The three member delegation led by Hanny Megally, Chief Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa branch of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), also called on Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Thomas Savundranayagam, Jaffna’s Security Forces Commander Mahinda Hathurusinghe and officials of foreign-funded projects.
The delegation also visited the Manik farm where some 360 displaced people still remain.In Colombo, the delegation met several representatives of NGOs such as the National Peace Council and the Sri Lanka Muslim Council. The Jathika Hela Urumaya, meanwhile, held a protest in front of the UN office against the arrival of the UN delegation.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Aid in referring to a news item in the Sunday Times of September 9, said it had not been invited by the UN team, as reported.
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