The 31st regular session of the UN Human Rights Council, begins in Geneva on 29 February and will continoue till 24 March 2016. In his statement the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said when Governments clamp down against grass roots activists, journalists and political opponents – or scrap the guarantees of an independent judiciary – they are not acting to halt violent extremism. They are dismantling the integrity of their societies and the people’s trust and respect for fundamental institutions. Crushing human freedoms will not protect us from terrorism. It creates dangerous divisions and grievances that will lead to more violence. The Human Rights Council must have important impact on world events – and help to ensure that the frightful human rights violations which we are seeing today are not the prologue to even greater suffering and chaos, tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in his report A/HRC/31/55/Add.1 on Sri Lanka said it awaits a more in-depth response on the queries made in Case no: LKA 13/2014 and LKA 1/2015. The Special Rapporteur states:
Alleged threats, intimidation and harassment of two human rights defenders, Mr. Brito Fernando and Mr. Prasanga Fernando, in retaliation for their work on enforced disappearances, truth and justice.
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for its response of receipt to one of the two communications sent during the reporting period however awaits a more in-depth response. Furthermore, he regrets that no response has been received to the communication sent on 14 January 2015 in relation to acts of retaliation against two human rights defenders working on issues of enforced disappearance.
The Special Rapporteur laments the numerous cases of enforced disappearances in the country over the past years and urges the Government to increase its efforts to determine the fate or whereabouts of those who have disappeared, including Ms. Rankothge Mauri Inoka Kumari Jayasena, Mr. Madushka Haris de Silva, Mr. Brito Fernando and Mr. Prasanga Fernando. The Special Rapporteur welcomes the commitments made by the new Government of Sri Lanka to embark on comprehensive measures to ensure truth, justice and reparation for victims, as well as to prevent any occurrence of disappearances in the future. He urges the Government of Sri Lanka follow up these promises and commitments must now with concrete efforts and tangible results. The Special Rapporteur reminds the Government to provide a safe and enabling environment for all human rights defenders in the country, an in particular those who are committed to seeking truth, justice and reparation for victims of forced disappearance.