Total of 99 countries to speak on Lanka at UPR

Several countries have submitted advance questions to Sri Lanka on human rights issues and the Northern Provincial Council elections, ahead of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Sri Lanka to be held in Geneva on Thursday.

The United States, Britain, Canada, Spain, Denmark, Mexico, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands are among the countries which have submitted questions to Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile a total of 99 countries have been listed to speak on Sri Lanka during the review, with each country having a minute and 12 seconds.

The report on Sri Lanka will then be adopted on Monday, November 5 after the views of the government and other countries are taken into consideration.
In its questions submitted in advance, the United States has asked why there is a delay in holding elections for the Northern Provincial Council, and what can the government do to move the election date up from September 2013.

The US has also asked what the status is of the Witness and Victim Protection Bill that the Government committed to passing during the 2008 UPR first cycle.

It also questioned the status of the investigations into the Channel 4 video, the assassination of five students in Trincomalee (January 2006), the execution of 17 ACF aid workers in Muttur (August 2006), the murder of 10 workers in Pottuvil (September 2006), the assassination of The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge (January 2009), and the disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda (January 2010).

“Given that not all the recommendations of the LLRC report were included in the LLRC Action Plan, what will happen to those recommendations that were not included? Will the recommendations not included in LLRC Action Plan be implemented at a future date? How does the Government propose to carry out an independent assessment on the progress of the activities in the LLRC Action Plan?” the United States asked.

Meanwhile Canada noted that although the Menik Farm IDP camp was closed in September 2012, not all IDPs were able to return to their original homes, and there are concerns that relocations were not done in accordance with international standards.

Canada has asked when the Government of Sri Lanka will enact a Right to Information Act to ensure greater transparency for its citizens and what the Government has done to implement devolution of powers stipulated in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Britain has meanwhile sought an update on the progress made by the Court of Inquiry appointed by the Sri Lankan Army to investigate allegations of war crimes and if the deliberations of that Court will be made available to the public.

“We would be grateful to know whether the government of Sri Lanka will issue an invitation to the six UN Special Procedures that have outstanding requests for visits. If so, when?” the note sent by Britain said. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the Sri Lankan government have already submitted their reports for the UPR on Sri Lanka.

The UPR involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. (Courtesy The Sunday Leader)