South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in The Daily Mirror on Oct. 02 ::

Sri Lanka’s human rights record is due to be reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee next week during which issues pertaining to rights of persons belonging to minorities, violence against women and counter terrorism measures are due to be discussed.

The review scheduled for October 7 and 8 is happening for the fifth time. The list of issues that are due to be reviewed with concern to Sri Lanka includes the Constitutional and Legal framework within which the Covenant is implemented, non-discrimination, violence against women including domestic violence, counter terrorism measures, right to life, accountability, prohibition of torture and cruelty, humane or degrading treatment, liberty and security of persons, fair trials and independence of the judiciary, protection of rights of children, elimination of slavery and servitude, freedom of movement and right to privacy, freedom of expression, assembly and association, right to take part in the conduct of public affairs and rights of persons belonging to minorities.

During the reviewing process, the Sri Lankan delegation is due to present statements on the matters raised. Sri Lanka is also due to respond to allegations that the legal proceedings against Presidential Candidate Sarath Foneska were politically motivated.

Sri Lanka, as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is required to undergo regular review by the Committee that comprises of 18 international independent experts on Sri Lanka’s implementation of the ICCPR. The Committee is due to engage in a dialogue with the Sri Lankan delegation on questions relating to the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Despite Sri Lanka’s rejection of the probe that is being carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) concerning allegations of human rights abuses during the final stages of the war by both parties, during the 27th UN Human Rights Council sessions it was noted that Sri Lanka would continue to engage with the regular mechanisms of the Council, with the OHCHR and the High Commissioner.

“Sri Lanka looks forward to the opportunity to engage during Sri Lanka’s fifth periodic report under the ICCPR next month with the human rights committee where we would be able to update and inform the international community on developments in Sri Lanka including efforts of the government to promote and protect human rights,” Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha stated in response to the oral update that was delivered on the probe on Sri Lanka on September 25.  

Sri Lanka is one of the 168 countries that is party to the ICCPR. It has already submitted a report on the status of the implementation of its human rights obligations to the Committee. Several NGOs have also submitted reports for the consideration of the Committee.

Among the other states that are due to be reviewed are Burundi, Haiti, Montenegro and Israel.