Colombo : Visiting United Nations Assistant Secretary General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Khaled Khiari on Friday emphasised the importance of inclusive governance, greater civic engagement, and the need to protect the rights of all Sri Lankans.
The ASG who oversees the regional work of the UN’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs – Department of Peace Operations made this remarks aty concluding his visit to Sri Lanka.
During his visit from November 23, Khiari met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Foreign Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and representatives of opposition, Tamil and Muslim political parties, civil society, religious leaders, among others.
“I appreciated hearing from a broad range of voices in Sri Lanka about past and current challenges and opportunities and welcomed the cooperation between the UN and Sri Lanka on peace and development.
“I also reiterated our commitment to supporting Sri Lanka’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including SDG 16, which highlights how sustainable peace and development are intimately linked with access to justice for all and accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels,” he said.
Meanwhile, during the meeting with Khiari, Peiris outlined the recent progress made in domestic processes in relation to reconciliation and human rights, including the proposed revisions to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and reiterated the government’s commitment to achieving tangible progress.
Khiari’s visit to Sri Lanka was a follow-up to the bilateral meeting President Rajapaksa had with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September.
Sri Lanka is facing allegations of human rights violations during its three decade long civil war ended in 2009 with the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tigers and a surge of civilian deaths. In March this year, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet received a mandate to collect evidence of crimes during the country’s long civil war.
Again in September, the UN Human Rights Chief stated that she was looking forward to “concrete actions” from the Sri Lankan government on its promises, while urging members of the UN Human Rights Council to continue paying “close attention” to the island nation, whose rights record remains in international focus after a decade since its civil war ended.
Bachelet was also referring to Sri Lanka’s draconian terrorism law, the Prevention of Terrorism Act and prolonged detention of human rights activists.