South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in The Colombo Gazette on Sep. 11:

UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon has noted that the Sri Lankan Government is yet to respond to a joint communication sent on 27 March 2014 by three special procedures mandate holders relating to the harassment of human rights defenders.

In his annual report submitted to the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) currently meeting in Geneva, the UN Secretary General has noted some incidents reported in Sri Lanka in relation to cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.

In the report, which will be discussed during the ongoing Geneva session, Ban notes that at the end of her visit to Sri Lanka in August 2013, the then United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, had expressed concern at allegations of harassment and intimidation against a number of individuals linked with her visit and urged the Government of Sri Lanka to issue immediate orders to end that treatment.

In her report to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fifth session, to which the Government submitted an extensive reply, the High Commissioner indicated that reports continued to be received of widespread harassment and intimidation targeting human rights defenders, activists, lawyers and journalists for having cooperated with the High Commissioner and her office during her visit to the country.  At the same session, the Council adopted resolution 25/1 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, in which it expressed serious concern at the continuing reports of reprisals.

Ban’s report for the 27th UNHRC session notes that on 21 March 2014, a group of special procedures mandate holders sent a joint communication regarding allegations that, on 6 March 2014, in its English news bulletin, the State-controlled Sri Lanka Rupavahini (TV) Corporation accused 24 civil society organizations of having issued a joint civil society memorandum to the Human Rights Council and the international community, while broadcasting the full names and images of the leaders of nine of those organizations and the names of affiliated civil society organizations.

In the same bulletin, the Corporation allegedly also accused the mentioned organizations of having submitted false information to the international community to discredit the country, claimed that their memorandum would damage the peace and reconciliation prevailing in the country among various ethnic groups and regions and stated that it was common among NGOs to exaggerate information about the situation in Sri Lanka in order to receive funding.

Ban said that at the time of finalization of the present report (August 27/2014), no reply had been received from the Government to the concerns raised by the special procedures mandate holders.