Human Rights Commissioner, Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa, yesterday debunked the statements made by the visiting US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Nisha Biswal, on human rights issues in Sri Lanka, and added that almost all the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliations (LLRC) had been implemented.
This follows Biswal’s comments while addressing a news conference in Colombo on Saturday night, when she said that Human Rights in Sri Lanka had deteriorated rather than the situation improving.
“I cannot agree with the statements that the US Government has made, which is all wrong,” he said, and added that, he was speaking in his capacity as the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Kotalawela Defence University.
Dr. Mahanamahewa said he will comment on the issues in his official capacity, following a meeting of the Human Rights Commission at a future date, when the Commission would deliberate on the comments made by the visiting US envoy.
Rubbishing the comments made by Biswal at the news conference at which she said the human rights record of Sri Lanka had plunged, Dr. Mahanamahewa said that, almost all the key recommendations of the LLRC had been implemented.
For instance, the government has set up a Presidential Commission on Disappearances, another Commission to probe the Loss of Lives and Property due to the war since 1982, both of which were recommendations made by the LLRC.
The government will also present the Right To Information Bill and the Victims and Witnesses Protection Bill in Parliament soon, which are also part of the LLRC recommendations. He said that most of the lands of the Jaffna residents had been handed over to the respective persons, and the government had drastically reduced the military check points in Kilinochchi, from the over 4,000 that had been set up, to less than 40 now.
He said another feather in the cap for human rights was the establishment of a special High Court to hear cases under the Prevention of Terrorism Act as well as to hear cases of child abuse.
Dr. Mahanamahewa also said there was a national Human Rights Action Plan which was initiated in 2011 and which will go on till 2016. “Some of these proposals could not be implemented overnight,” he explained.
He went on to say that the US was pushing for a war crimes probe with regard to the last stages of the war, whereas the last stages of the war was a mere humanitarian operation and it was the LTTE which had fired at the fleeing civilians.
He also proposed that if the US and the UN want a war crimes probe, then it would also have to probe the tenure of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka, during the Premadasa regime as well.