The government yesterday said it was taking effective action to curb alleged human rights violations and stressed the Special Rapporteur on torture and the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the human Rights of IDPs were invited to carry out a fact finding mission in Sri Lanka this year.
In his speech at the high level segment on the opening day at the fourth session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said the government hoped to implement constructive recommendations that would stem from the visit of the two envoys to Sri Lanka.
`As an active and engaged founder member of the Council, Sri Lanka continues its open and constructive engagement with special procedure mechanisms of this council. I would like to inform you since this matter was raised by the delegation of Switzerland that in keeping with traditional practice the government has already extended invitations to two mandate holders,` Minister Samarasinghe said.
Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany (EU) Frank-Walter Steinmeier and many others including government representatives from Japan and Norway were among those who made statements yesterday.
Minister Samarasinghe said as part of efforts taken by the government to address human rights concerns a meeting was held, last week, for officers in charge of police stations in many parts of Sri Lanka chaired by the Police Chief to ensure the fundamental rights of people were respected.
`This is in addition to several initiatives being taken on regular basis by the inter ministerial committee on human rights which meets once a month under my chairmanship which has proven to be an effective tool in the monitoring of specific allegations of human rights violations and adopting practical measures to address concerns,` the Minister said.
While detailing the efforts taken by the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) to observe the functions of the Presidential commission of inquiry setup to investigate alleged violations of human rights Minister Samarasinghe added that the UNHRC will be updated on the progress made.
The Minister also debriefed the Council on the efforts taken to address the humanitarian situation in the North and East.
Reports by the special rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Philip Alston, the UN representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, all three of which cover issues in Sri Lanka, will also be presented at the latest UNHRC session which ends at the end of this month.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour in her opening remarks noted that as the council strives to construct a system to review the performance of the states in the discharge of their human rights obligations, the council will speak of fairness and impartiality towards the government under review.
A report by Ms. Arbour, which includes Sri Lanka, will be taken up for discussion tomorrow.