U.S. welcomes assessment visit of Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The United States welcomes the recent assessment visit to Sri Lanka, of Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Her visit was an opportunity to engage with the Government of Sri Lanka, civil society, and political parties to examine outstanding human rights, justice, and democratic governance issues.
The United States shares the High Commissioner’s concerns about the recent surge in the incitement of hatred and violence against religious minorities, including attacks on churches and mosques. The United States also shares the UN High Commissioner’s concern about the apparent trend toward authoritarianism and the erosion of democratic governance in Sri Lanka.
Four years after the end of the brutal, 27-year conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, Sri Lanka has worked to reconstruct the former conflict zones in the Eastern and Northern Provinces. This includes rebuilding roads, bridges, houses, medical facilities and schools; improving electricity and water supplies.
Thanks to U.S. assistance, many of the landmines are now removed. “As a result, the great majority of the more than 450,000 people who were internally displaced at the end of the conflict have now gone home,” said Navi Pillay in her report.
Nonetheless, the High Commissioner also noted several developments and trends of concern in Sri Lanka. First was the involvement of the military in what should be civilian activities, such as for example tourism, agriculture and education; its involvement in police actions, and its acquisition of private land for military facilities.
Second was the lack of a credible process to investigate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the war, and into allegations of civilian casualties and summary executions, cases of disappearance and custodial deaths.
Third was a trend of increased harassment and intimidation of a number of human rights defenders, priests, journalists, including citizens who met with High Commissioner Pillay, or had planned to meet with her.
The United States urges the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its public commitments to implement the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee report, to develop credible justice mechanisms to address outstanding allegations concerning serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.