Some amendments to Pillay’s report following GoSL representations

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has effected some changes to its report on Sri Lanka scheduled to be submitted to the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions scheduled to begin today (March 25).

Government sources told The Island that the amendments had been made following Sri Lanka’s responses to the unedited version of the report prepared following UNHRC chief Navy Pillay’s visit to the country last year.

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris will address the UNHRC on Wednesday (March 5).

The OHCHR has changed its original demand that Sri Lanka establish a timeline for the demobilisation and disarmament of the armed forces in addition to stop them from performing civilian tasks.

Following representations made by the External Affairs Minister, the OHCHR has dropped its unprecedented call for demobilisation and disarmament of armed forces as well as a time line to achieve the objectives. Responding to a query, sources said that Sri Lanka reminded the OHCHR that it had no mandate to make such demand of a sovereign state.

She also recommended that the government work with five party Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Senior officials said that they were taken aback as the OHCHR didn’t realise the importance of the Northern Provincial Council polls.Sources appreciated that the OHCHR had included a new paragraph which dealt with the reduction of military presence in the Northern and Eastern Provinces by 30 and 26 per cent, respectively, and the release of state (20,011 acres) and privately (5,470 acres) owned land. Pillay added that over 6,000 acres of privately owned land had been acquired around security forces cantonment at Palaly and over 2,000 persons were seeking legal redress. Pillay quoted the GoSL as having said that the affected would be compensated and alternative land provided for them.

Another important amendment was the sourcing of allegations relating to about 280 incidents of threats and violence directed at the Muslim community in 2013 to the NGO called Secretariat for Muslims.

The OHCHR has amended the number of persons killed due to the Sri Lanka Army opening fire at those demanding clean water to three. The original report mentioned the deaths of six persons. The OHCHR also corrected the date of the appointment of Army Court of Inquiry to August 2, 2013 from September 2, 2013.

She also acknowledged that the GoSL had sought information regarding Sri Lankans whose asylum claims were denied by foreign governments. The External Affairs Ministry said that this addition was due to Sri Lanka seeking information from UK, Canada and the USA.

Interestingly, the OHCHR had deleted part of a sentence that dealt with the killing of Prabhakaran’s 12-year-old son, Balachandran. The deleted part claimed that the boy was killed when troops were moving to take the LTTE’s last stronghold located on a strip of coastline near Mullaitivu.


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