Sri Lanka refuses to cooperate with the Council and U.N. human rights mechanisms
- Attacks on U.N. Officials
- Non-cooperation with Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council
Attacks on UN officials:
Rather than consider the recommendations made in good faith by U.N. officials, the Sri Lankan authorities have instead launched unacceptable and unfounded personal attacks on those who have visited Sri Lanka and raised human rights concerns:
- In August 2007 Sri Lankan highways minister told reporters that UN Undersecretary General for humanitarian affairs, John Holmes, who had just completed a visit to Sri Lanka and expressed concern about the safety of humanitarian aid workers there, was a “terrorist” who was helping the Tamil Tiger rebels. "I would say Holmes is completely a terrorist, a terrorist who supports terrorism. . . . This person tries to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka internationally. . . . I think the LTTE has bribed Holmes." According to press reports, the minister offered no evidence to support these claims.
- When Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the minister’s assertions about Under secretary General Holmes “unacceptable and unwarranted,” the minister’s response was, “I don’t give a damn about what he has to tell me or Sri Lanka. He can say whatever he wants, but I will still go by what I said and that is, John Homes is a terrorist who takes bribes from the LTTE.”
- In October 2007 a public statement from the Sri Lankan Government accused UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour of becoming “a football, to be kicked about at will, to score goals for terrorists and others who do not mind sharing a terrorist agenda provided it gets them their goals too.”
- When UN Special Advisor on Children and Armed Conflict, Allan Rock, reported “strong and credible evidence that certain elements of the government security forces are supporting and sometimes participating in the abductions and forced recruitment of children by the Karuna faction,” the Sri Lankan Defense Minister’s response was to surmise that the main source of Rock’s allegations “might be the LTTE leader himself.” Rather than take the UN envoy at his word, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense accused Rock of adopting an “inquiry procedure” which was “not up to internationally accepted methodologies,” and asserted that there were “inherent weaknesses in [Rock’s] analysis of the subject.”
- Notably, the Sri Lankan Defense Department’s response to Allan Rock’s report were published on the Sri Lankan government website alongside a photograph of Rock posing years before with former colleagues of a Sri Lankan Native who was arrested by U.S. authorities for supporting the LTTE, implying—as was pointed out in Sri Lankan newspapers—Rock’s allegations were somehow the result of association with colleagues of a suspected LTTE-sympathizer.
Non-cooperation with Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council:
Rather than allowing for the effective monitoring of human rights in Sri Lanka by national or international mechanisms, Sri Lankan authorities have obstructed the work of Special Procedures mandate holders and others who could effectively investigate abuses and failed to implement their recommendations:
- In February 2008, UN Special Rapporteur in torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, Manfred Nowak, reported that during his most recent visit to Sri Lanka, “[t]he conditions for independent fact-finding were further impeded by certain instances, where detainees were hidden or brought away shortly before the Special Rapporteur arrived. . . . The Special Rapporteur received information from the remaining detainees that the transferred persons were those who had been most seriously tortured before and still bore marks of the ill-treatment.”
- In his 2008 report to the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak also highlighted the fact that “prior to the commencement of the visit, the Government denied him permission to travel to LTTE-controlled areas, [and] did not provide him with a letter of authorisation to visit any facilities of the armed forces.”
- In March 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston told the UN Human Rights Council that “[t]he Government of Sri Lanka has failed to cooperate with the mandate that [the special rapporteur] has been given by the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights.”
- According to the Compilation Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lank, released in March this year, “Sri Lanka responded to none of the 12 questionnaires sent by special procedures mandate holders between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2007, within the deadlines.”
- As outlined in the Office of the High commissioner’s compilation prepared for the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka, 94 communications were sent to Sri Lanka throughout the past four years, concerning 208 individuals. Si Lankan responded to only 45 of those communications, which represents replies to just 48% of the communications sent.
- The government of Sri Lanka has not honored the key recommendations issued by the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances following visits to the country in 1991, 1992 and 1999. According to the group’s secretariat, “the central register of detainees has not been established; the Prevention of Terrorism Act was absorbed into Emergency Regulations, giving the authorities wider powers to detain individuals; and the Constitution has not been amended to prohibit enforced disappearance.”
- Despite repeated requests that the government of Sri Lanka agree to and set a date for the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to visit the country, according to the Working Group’s Secretariat, “There has been no agreement yet for the visit to Sri Lanka.”