UN Special Rapporteur visits Sri Lanka

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Colombo, Oct 10 (IANS) The UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, began a visit to Sri Lanka on Monday, the Foreign Ministry said.

Izsák-Ndiaye will be in Sri Lanka till October 20 to assess the current situation of national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in the country.

At the commencement of her visit, the UN special rapporteur had talks with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

“Experience has shown that the recognition and promotion of minority rights are critical, if not requisite, in achieving long-lasting peace and reconciliation, particularly in countries such as Sri Lanka that were once divided by ethnic conflicts,” said an independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council.

She said considering the long-standing grievances that were at the roots of the civil war in Sri Lanka, any efforts towards accountability and reconciliation must include a careful examination of the extent to which the rights of minorities are protected and promoted in the country.

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During her 10-day mission, the expert will be in Colombo as well as other locations in the Northern, North Central, Eastern and Central Provinces to meet with minority communities to hear about their issues and concerns.

The Special Rapporteur will also meet with a wide range of other stakeholders, including state authorities, the National Human Rights Commission and civil society actors.

Izsák-Ndiaye said her visit was intended to assist the government and the Sri Lankan society in identifying challenges and solutions as well as sharing experiences.

The Special Rapporteur will present her full report on the mission to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017.

Sri Lanka’s dragging ethnic conflict ended in May 2009 when the military crushed the Tamil Tigers. Tens of thousands were killed and wounded in the decades of fighting and violence.

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