By Lakna Paranamanna
We are not judging Sri Lanka; our attempt is to evaluate the extent of Sri Lanka’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), said UN Human Rights Committee chairman Sir Nigel Rodley yesterday, when concluding the review of Sri Lanka’s human rights record for the fifth time.
Sir Nigel made these remarks in his concluding speech as the reviewing process on Sri Lanka came to an end. “We are not judging Sri Lanka as has been suggested from time to time. What we are trying to evaluate is the extent of Sri Lanka’s compliance with the ICCPR,” Sir Nigel said.
He said that the Committee recognised that Sri Lanka was emerging from the end of a bloody war, but noted that the allegations (regarding which substantial evidence had been presented) included widespread disappearances, extra judicial killings, torture as a systematic practice and the questions raised on impunity -- and they needed to be addressed.
“Zero tolerance or no zero tolerance, the question is whether these violations like torture continue to occur,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha, winding up, requested the Committee to practise sensitivity regarding the questions raised by some of the Commissioners.
He raised issue with the term ‘Tamil Homeland’, which he said implied that part of Sri Lanka belonged to one community. “This is the basis on which the separatist conflict was fought for thirty years,” he said; adding that no mandate had ever been given at any election for a division of Sri Lanka and that a citizen from any community was free to choose his or her place of residence.
He also spoke of the references made to restrictions imposed by the security forces in the North against holding memorial events.