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UN rights chief warns against reprisals

COLOMBO: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, has asked the Sri Lankan government to see that there are no reprisals against Lankan human rights activists as a result

Published: 25th March 2012 04:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:42 PM   |  A+A-

COLOMBO: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, has asked the Sri Lankan government to see that there are no reprisals against Lankan human rights activists as a result of the UNHRC resolution calling upon the government to investigate rights violations, address accountability issues, and bring about ethnic reconciliation.

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UNHCHR, said in Geneva on Friday, that Pillay had called upon Colombo to ‘defend human rights defenders,’ following reports that some members of the 71 strong Lankan delegation at Geneva had threatened Lankan activists who had come to the UNHRC to give their views on the ethnic and human rights questions in their country.

“During the UNHRC session there had been an unacceptable level of threats, harassment and intimidation directed at Sri Lankan activists who came over to Geneva to engage in the debate even by the members of Sri Lanka delegation. Even people who had no connection with Sri Lanka human rights issues were intimidated,” Colville said.

The spokesman further said that he had seen video footage of Lankan Minister Mervyn Silva threatening human rights activists after the council vote.

Commenting on the Minister’s threat, the UNHCHR spokesman said: “This is another instance of the ongoing hate campaign. The UNHCHR and other UN bodies would be monitoring the situation in the island.” Meanwhile, it was reported that the Lankan Ambassador in Geneva, Tamara Kunanayakam, had also received a threat, which was being investigated by the UN.

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