US urges Sri Lanka to accept UN human rights team to monitor deteriorating situation
The Associated Press
Published: October 22, 2007
WASHINGTON: The United States urged Sri Lanka on Monday to reconsider its decision not to allow the United Nations to base a human rights monitoring group in the South Asian country.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack quoted an assessment by Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, that the humanitarian situation is deteriorating in Sri Lanka.
A 2002 cease-fire with ethnic Tamil separatists collapsed almost two years ago, and more than 5,000 people have died in the renewed fighting. Additionally, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch reports that more than 1,100 abductions or 'disappearances' were reported between January 2006 and June 2007, many blamed on the government and its armed allies.
On Saturday, Arbour decried 'the weakness of the rule of law and prevalence of impunity' in Sri Lanka. She implicitly endorsed the idea of sending a U.N. rights monitoring group, which the Sri Lanka government has rejected.
'An international human rights presence in Sri Lanka would be an important step in improving human rights, accountability, and the rule of law, and ultimately resolving the conflict in Sri Lanka,' McCormack said Monday.
The Sri Lankan government contends it has adequate rights protections in place, including a national rights advisory panel. Four of the 10 members of the panel quit on Saturday because they said their advice was ignored, and the government used the existence of the panel as proof that it cares about its people's human rights.
Edited By - Thivya - 23 Oct 2007 01:56:20 GMT