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Lanka says 'no' to UN monitoring office

A United Nations bid to set up a human rights monitoring office in Sri Lanka has failed given the Sri Lankan government's resolute opposition to it, reports PK Balachandran.

world Updated: Oct 14, 2007 00:59 IST
PK Balachandran

A United Nations bid to set up a human rights monitoring office in Sri Lanka has failed given the Sri Lankan government's resolute opposition to it.

"It is a very complex situation and our position is that we are not willing to discuss a UN presence in Sri Lanka and neither opening an office of Human Rights in Sri Lanka," the Minister for Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe told a meeting here on Saturday, in which the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, was a participant.

Arbour had pushed for a UN mission. She said: " The weakness of the rule of law and prevalence of impunity is alarming. There is a large number of reported killings, abductions and disappearances which remain unresolved."

The UN and Colombo should "urgently" resolve the issues affecting the relationship between the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) and the government of Sri Lanka, she urged, while hinting that the relations were turbulent and that a productive future was at stake.

Sections of the media in the Sinhala-dominated South Sri Lanka had been very critical of Arbour's visit on the grounds that it infringed on the country's sovereignty and helped the cause of the Tamil terrorists and separatists.

The government allowed her to visit Jaffna but not the LTTE's headquarters in Kilinochchi.

In denial of the charge that the UN was pro-LTTE, Arbour said: "I would have liked to convey directly to the LTTE my deep concern about the violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including recruitment of children, forced recruitment and abduction of adults, and political killings."