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Lanka calls UN team to check rights abuses

The Govt invites two UN envoys in October to check rights violations in Lanka, reports PK Balachandran.

world Updated: Mar 13, 2007 11:39 IST

In the midst of speculation that the UN was planning to send a monitoring mission to Sri Lanka to check out on allegations of gross human rights violations, the Sri Lankan government has announced that it had itself invited two UN envoys to perform the task.

Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, that the government had invited the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), to visit Sri Lanka in October and November this year respectively.

"We hope that constructive recommendations, which could be implemented, would emanate from these visits," Samarasinghe said.

He had announced the invitations after the Swiss delegate raised the issue of rights violations in Sri Lanka in the past year, including killings, abductions and involuntary disappearances.

In his defence, the Sri Lankan Minister gave an account of the threats and violent acts of the LTTE and said that 34,000 civilians had fled from the clutches of the LTTE only recently.

He also detailed the various measures taken by his government to investigate alleged violations by state agencies and other groups. 75,000 tonnes of essential goods were sent to Jaffna by sea despite the LTTE's threat to civilian shipping.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a public appeal for food and water for the 100,000 refugees in Batticaloa district in East Sri Lanka.

According to the Jaffna District Human Rights Commission, 87 civilians, mostly youth between 20 and 30, had disappeared since January 1, 2007.

The Colombo-based Civil Monitoring Mission (CMM) said that 78 Tamils were abducted or had disappeared from Colombo and its environs between February 2006 and February 2007.

Of these, 13 were killed, and 15 had been released after payment of ransom, said CMM's leader Mano Ganesan MP.