United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Sri Lanka from February 6 – 9

Prince ZeidThis week’s visit by top United Nations official for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to Sri Lanka has nothing to do with the review of the implementation of the Geneva resolution, according to the Sri Lankan government.

Mr. Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will be here in the country during February 6 – 9.  It was he who told the media in September that “our investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred [during the final stages of the civil war] in Sri Lanka.”

An official at his office in Geneva said a release, providing more details, would be issued shortly.

In response to government’s invitation

Responding to queries by The Hindu, Mahishini Colonne, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the visit was in response to an invitation extended by the government in February 2015, many months before the adoption of the resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in October. This was on the lines of the previous Rajapaksa regime’s action of inviting Mr. Al Hussein’s predecessor, Navaneetham Pillay, who came to Sri Lanka in August 2013. On the agenda of the U.N. official, the spokesperson, however, maintained that he had “no agenda.”

Commitment given by Sirisena

She recalled that at the time of the presidential election in January 2015, there was a commitment given (by Maithripala Sirisena) to people of Sri Lanka on good governance and the protection of human rights. “As part of the government’s willingness to work together with international community, the invitation was extended to him,” she explained.

Mr. Al Hussein’s visit will take place at a time when the public discourse in Sri Lanka has again turned to the Geneva resolution.

On Monday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told a seminar, organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), that the government was not deviating from the Geneva resolution in any way and the government had been “implementing” it.  He added that the country “is now in the process of ensuring that human rights will never become an issue again and democracy is further strengthened.” (The Hindu)

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