Leading rights groups including the New York based Human Rights Watch will discuss the setting up of an international human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka under UN auspices at the fourth UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session starting next week, an official said yesterday.
Human Rights Watch Legal advisor James Ross, told the Daily Mirror the monitoring mission would deter and address ongoing human rights violations in both government and LTTE-controlled areas, something the presidential commission of inquiry is not structured to do.
`We and other international and domestic human rights organizations will be working with concerned governments at the upcoming session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva to establish a much needed international human rights monitoring mission under UN auspices,` Mr. Ross, who has been following the human rights situation in Sri Lanka since 1994 told the Daily Mirror by email. In her report to next week`s session UN Human Rights High Commissioner Louise Arbour also said that a broader international mechanism was needed to monitor and ultimately prevent, human rights violations in the longer term despite the establishment of a Presidential Commission.
`We hope to work with the Sri Lankan government to put this much needed effort into effect,` Mr. Ross said.
HRW reiterated it remains deeply concerned by the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka in the wake of continuing abductions and the discovery of unidentified bodies, the latest in Anuradhapura yesterday. Mr. Ross, meanwhile, said the new anti-terror laws gave overbroad powers of arrest and detention to the security forces and stressed that people who commit acts of terrorism should be prosecuted through courts meeting fair trial standards.
He says by failing to establish an appeal board, the government is simply raising more questions about an already questionable law noting that there were `troublesome` indications that the new law is being used for improper political purposes. At the time the new laws were introduced to supplement the existing emergency regulations government Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said a Competent Authority would be appointed to deal with arrests under the new law and added that an Appeal Tribunal will also be setup for such persons to make appeals regarding
violations of the law.
`In this exercise, there is also a safety net to look into issues such as human rights violations when implementing the regulations. We will leave no room for such mishaps,` the Minister said at the time.