On the eve of President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s address to the United Nationa General Assembly, the world body has expressed serious concerns over ``a spate of extrajudicial executions`` by the military, paramilitary forces and insurgent groups in Sri Lanka. A damning report by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions, states that in presenting the report to the General Assembly last year, Mr. Alston warned that `Sri Lanka was on the brink of a crisis of major proportions.`
`Since that time, the situation has indeed erupted into crisis and neither the Human Rights Council (in Geneva) nor the General Assembly (in New York) has seen fit to take any action to address the spate of extra-judicial executions being reported out of that country,` he says in a new report to the 192-member General Assembly, which began its 62nd sessions last week. Mr. Alston has implicitly urged both the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly to penalize the government for its human rights abuses.
The report castigating Sri Lanka comes on the eve of President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s address to the General Assembly. He is due to speak on Tuesday afternoon, and is scheduled to meet Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.
According to reports out of the UN, the Secretary-General himself is expected to express his own concerns about human rights violations, the unresolved killings of humanitarian workers and the harassment of journalists -- and particularly the veiled threats against The Sunday Times Consultant Editor and Defence Correspondent Iqbal Athas.
He will also raise the issue of the senior Sri Lankan cabinet minister who accused UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Sir John Holmes of being a `terrorist` in the payroll of the LTTE. Last month, Mr. Ban said these charges were ``unwarranted and unacceptable.`
Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a candidate for the upcoming US presidential elections, wrote a letter to President Rajapaksa in early September about the `personal safety` of Mr. Athas whose reporting of government corruption ``appears to have exposed him to serious and disturbing threats.`
In his report, Mr. Alston says he had brought to the attention of the government the extra judicial executions by home guards and the need `for strict control of any such auxiliary force by the security forces.
`In view of the experience of other countries, where paramilitary groups are responsible for numerous and grave human rights violations, the (Sri Lanka) government may wish to consider as a preferable solution strengthening the regular security forces in areas with armed conflict, rather than creating a paramilitary body.`