The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is seeking to establish a regional office in Sri Lanka, UN High Commissioner Louise Arbour told the Geneva Human Rights Council during an interactive debate on Wednesday.
Her comments came after the German Ambassador Michael Steiner, speaking on behalf of the European Union, questioned what sort of action the international community should take to work with the Government of Sri Lanka.
On the question of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and the Government`s response to past incidents through the creation of a Commission of Inquiry and an international group of experts, Ms. Arbour said her Office had worked hard to support the Government`s efforts in that field and continued to be involved in the process.
She said she continued to be concerned, however, that there was no robust and forward-looking human rights mechanism in Sri Lanka to investigate continuing human rights abuses such as abductions and displacement and added that she would like to establish a regional office in the country.
The Human Rights Council held the interactive debate with Ms. Arbour after she presented her annual report, which gave an overview of the activities of her Office, and raised several essential aspects of the protection of human rights, including support that the Office had given to the Council both at the level of institutional mechanisms and that of substantive activities. The debate was set to continue yesterday.
Ms. Arbour`s concerns over the lack of a proper mechanism to investigate rights abuses in Sri Lanka comes as several rights groups including the New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) pushed for the establishment of an international monitoring mission in Sri Lanka.
While welcoming the statement of Minister Mahanda Samarasinghe at the Human Rights Council announcing the Government`s invitation to the UN special representatives on torture and the internally displaced, HRW said it was inadequate to report on serious abuses by the Government and the LTTE that have already occurred and will not address the critical protection needs of Sri Lankans under threat from the Government, the LTTE and other armed groups.