Signs of Sri Lanka moving towards authoritarianism-Pillay

President Mahinda Rajapakse family

“I am deeply concerned that Sri Lanka, despite the opportunity provided by the end of the war to construct a new, vibrant, all-embracing state, is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction,” she said. Ms. Pillay said that freedom of expression in Sri Lanka was under sustained attack. “With self-censorship fuelled by fear, journalists report that there are articles they dare not write, and others their editors dare not print. Freedom of expression is under a sustained assault in Sri Lanka. I have called for the Right to Information Act to be adopted like in many of its neighbours in the SAARC region,” she said. [ full story | [ Daily Mirror ][ Aug 31 10:59 GMT ]

Opening remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at a press conference during her mission to Sri Lanka[ UN ][ Aug 31 13:59 GMT ]

As is customary at the end of official missions such as this, I would like to make some observations concerning the human rights situation in the country. During my seven-day visit, I have held discussions with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and senior members of the Government. These included the Ministers of External Affairs, Justice, Economic Development, National Languages and Social Integration, Youth Affairs and the Minister of Plantations Industries who is also Special Envoy to the President on Human Rights, as well as the Secretary of Defence. I also met the Chief Justice, Attorney-General, Leader of the House of Parliament and the Permanent Secretary to the President, who is head of the taskforce appointed to monitor the implementation of the report of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). [ full story |

UN rights chief says Sri Lanka heading in “authoritarian direction”[ Reuters ][ Aug 31 13:38 GMT ]

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay hit out against the Sri Lanka government on Saturday, saying that four years after the end of civil war people were still suffering amid signs the country was headed in an authoritarian direction. “It is important everyone realise that although the fighting is over, the suffering is not,” Pillay told a news conference at the end of a controversial fact-finding mission to assess Sri Lanka’s progress after the 26-year war between the government and separatist Tamils. [ full story |


‘You may whisper in my ear’, Pillay told Mullai people[Thu, 29 Aug 2013, 02:55 GMT]TamilNet

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay, who met a section of the uprooted people of Champoor in Trincomalee on Wednesday, told them that she was aware of their plight. On Tuesday, Ms Pillay, who visited Mu’l’li-vaaykkaal in Mullaith-theevu sympathized with the victims struggling to resettle amidst the prevailing SL military occupation and the ongoing structural genocide. Noticing fear in the people in speaking out in the presence of the surrounding SL military personnel clad in civil, she told them that they may whisper in her ear. Her direct contact with the victims in Vanni and Trincomalee comes after criticism on the conduct of the UN officials, who in Jaffna on Tuesday had opted to take her away through the backdoor following ‘advice’ by the SL authorities, preventing her meeting with around one thousand parents and victims of the missing people at the Jaffna Public Library. Full story >>

Navi Pillay meeting Tamils in Jaffna ended in eyewash, say Tamil activists

The UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanetham Pillay met a group of 15 Tamil rights activists and civil representatives at the UN office in Jaffna. While she spent more time with the Sri Lankan State officials, the independent Tamil activists were given just 90 seconds each to present their cases under 8 different themes that included the cases of missing persons, detention of prisoners, land grab, colonization and attacks on religious institutions. Full story >>

Navi Pillay taken through backdoor to avoid public in Jaffna

Many among more than a thousand people gathered in front of the Jaffna Public Library on Tuesday morning to personally convey their feelings to the visiting UN Human Rights Commissioner Ms Navi Pillay, started shedding tears when they found out that Ms Pillay was taken away, through the backdoor, by the Sri Lankan officials. The gathering that was mostly the kith and kin of the people missing in the war and the aftermath, was told by the organisers of the visit to peacefully assemble in front of the Jaffna Public Library so that Ms Pillay would be seeing them. Some of the people had even travelled from the South to convey their bereavement. But, after meeting the SL Colonial Governor, SL Government Agents of the districts in the North and SL-run provincial council heads of departments at the Public Library hall, Ms Pillay was led through the backdoor.  Full story >>
Sri Lanka: UN visit underscores disturbing human rights reality[ Amnesty International ][ Aug 31 13:35 GMT ]
Sri Lankan leaders must address the persistent climate of fear in the country, Amnesty International said as the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay concluded her visit to the island. Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, made her first official visit to Sri Lanka from 25-31 August. It comes just before the UN and Commonwealth review the country’s human rights situation in September. At her concluding press conference today, Pillay stressed that many who met or wanted to meet her during the visit had been threatened by security forces, and that critical voices in Sri Lanka are “quite often attacked or even permanently silenced”. [ full story |

UN’s Navi Pillay attacks Sri Lanka human rights record[ BBC ][ Aug 31 11:24 GMT ]

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay has sharply criticised the government of Sri Lanka, at the end of a week-long visit. “This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced,” the statement said. “Utterly unacceptable at any time, it is particularly extraordinary for such treatment to be meted out during a visit by a UN high commissioner for human rights.” [ full story |

Sri Lanka steps up attack on UN rights chief[ AFP ][ Aug 31 11:32 GMT ]

Sri Lanka ratcheted up criticism of the UN human rights body on Thursday, accusing it of repeated “vicious and baseless” allegations, as its chief visited the island to probe alleged war crimes.“The repeated use of baseless and arbitrary figures in respect of disappearances eventually acquire authenticity in the face of the massive propaganda that is being carried out against the government of Sri Lanka,” Peiris said.“She broke protocol, gave the slip to her security detail and went for secret meetings in Trincomalee (in the island’s northeast) to conspire against the country,” Weerawansa told reporters in Colombo. [ full story |

Sri Lanka minister says U.N. rights chief’s report won’t be fair[ Reuters ][ Aug 29 13:43 GMT ]

A Sri Lankan minister on Thursday accused U.N. Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, assessing the country four years after the end of a brutal civil war, of acting without transparency and said her report will be unfair. Amid protests for and against a seven-day visit to assess human rights, Pillay visited former northern war zones in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaiteevu and the eastern district of Trincomalee. [ full story |

Military meddling in Sri Lanka elections: What will the UN do?[ Global Post ][ Aug 28 14:32 GMT ]

The Sri Lanka Army has said it will vacate camps in the country’s northern Jaffna Peninsula before crucial provincial elections in September. Despite the international publicity the move has attracted, Jaffna’s residents say there is no significant downtick in overall levels of militarization. Elections to the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) next month will be the first. Legislation setting up provincial councils was part of a power-sharing treaty between India and Sri Lanka, known as the Indo-Lanka Accord. Enacted in 1987, the legislation was primarily created to resolve conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamils, the country’s two largest ethnic groups. [ full story |

Sri Lanka slams UN rights body[ AFP ][ Aug 28 13:47 GMT ]

Sri Lanka’s president has criticised the UN Human Rights Council as its top official toured the battle-scarred nation to probe alleged war crimes, according to state media Wednesday. President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is on a trip to Belarus, has told his counterpart Alexander Lukashenko that both nations are being targeted unfairly by the UNHRC whose chief Navi Pillay is visiting Sri Lanka. A banner headline in the Sri Lankan state-run Daily News branded the UNHRC an “anti-Lankan catspaw”. [ full story |

Relatives of Sri Lanka’s missing vent grievances at U.N.[ Reuters ][ Aug 27 14:36 GMT ]

Protesters in Sri Lanka criticised the United Nations for a second day on Tuesday during a visit by U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay who is assessing rights in a country still divided by a 27-year war. Angry members of the majority Sinhalese community protested in the capital, Colombo, on Monday, calling on Pillay to get out of the country and stop criticising its rights record. [ full story |