Rights Groups lobby against Sri Lanka seat in UN Rights Council

[TamilNet, Thursday, 08 May 2008, 00:39 GMT]
A coalition of Human Rights organizations including Human Rights Watch, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Article 19, and Reporters Without Borders, in a letter to the member states of the UN Human Rights Council, urged respective governments to "not vote for Sri Lanka for membership in the U.N. Human Rights Council in the election in the General Assembly on 21 May 2008 because of Sri Lanka’s failure to meet the Council’s membership standards." Meanwhile, FreedomHouse, a Washington-based Rights organization, in a press release issued Tuesday, expressed alarm that Human Rights abusers are poised to take seats on UN Council.

Pointing out that "General Assembly (GA) resolution 60/251 requires that "members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights" and "fully cooperate" with the Council," the release said "Sri Lanka falls far short of meeting these requirements."

The release added that numerous and horrific rights abuses by LTTE, a non-state armed group, "do not justify rights violations by government forces."

Catalogueing a series of incidents where Sri Lankan government forces have been "directly implicated in a wide range of serious abuses of human rights, and have failed to ensure investigations and bring those responsible to justice," the release said that Sri Lanka has a history of refusing to cooperate with the Council and U.N. human rights mechanisms."

The release pointed out personal verbal attacks made by Senior Sri Lanka officals against U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, U.N. Special Advisor on Children and Armed Conflict, Allan Rock, and U.N. Undersecretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, accusing them as either terrorists or as aiding terrorism.

The release said re-electing Sri Lanka "would weaken the Human Rights Council and indicate the international community is unconcerned with the grave human rights situation in Sri Lanka," and rejecting Sri Lanka’s candidacy "would show that U.N. members are serious about the membership standards they established for the Council, and bring new attention to the gross violations in Sri Lanka."

External Links:
FH: Human Rights Abusers Poised to Take Seats on UN Council
CPA: CPA's letter to UN Human Rights Council
HRW: Say no to Sri Lanka's Bid for U.N. Rights Council Seat


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