Now, Vasu rejects Pillay’s ‘authoritarian charge’


National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva yesterday rejected United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay’s assertion that Sri Lanka was becoming ‘increasingly authoritarian’ with rights activists apparently suffering growing harassment at the hands of security agencies.

Minister Nanayakkara told The Island that there was no basis for UN rights chief’s claim. The veteran leftist who had been supportive of the UN mission here was responding to a statement attributed to Pillay at a media conference held in Colombo at the conclusion of her weeklong visit.

Pillay said it was ‘utterly unacceptable’ that rights activists who spoke with her during her fact finding mission had subsequently faced harassment by the police and the military. "I’m deeply concerned that Sri Lanka, despite the opportunity provided by the end of the war to construct a new vibrant, all-embracing state, is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction."

Minister Nanayakkara alleged that Ms Pillay had been biased as regards her position on the appointment of a presidential commission to investigate wartime disappearances. The minister said a statement attributed to Ms Pillay that she wasn’t fully convinced with the investigations revealed her bias.

The UN rights chief had failed to take into account much improved human rights situation since the conclusion of the conflict, Nanayakkara said. (SF)

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