A United Nations delegation visiting Sri Lanka sequel to the US-backed resolution at the Human Rights Council will meet civil society groups to obtain their views on human rights and related issues. The Sri Lankan government, which changed its earlier stance not to allow such a delegation to visit Sri Lanka, has now agreed to allow the delegation to seek varying views. The civil society groups include those that were in Geneva last week to provide a response to the National Report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submitted by the government. Cynthia Veliko, spokesperson for the United Nations office in Colombo, told to the Colombo media that the delegation would be in Sri Lanka from September 14 to 20. She, however, declined to�divulge the team’s programme. The three-member team from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will be led by Hanny Megally, Chief of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa branch and includes Oscar Solera from the Rule of Law Unit and Aswa Petra, Desk Officer for Sri Lanka. High on the agenda for the team is a meeting with the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies in Sri Lanka, the umbrella organisation for a number of NGOs. Some members of the Consortium were in Geneva last week to voice their strong response to Sri Lanka’s National Report on the UPR. Among other groups the UN team will meet are representatives of the National Peace Council, Home for Human Rights and Muslim Aid. Among those from the government side meeting them will be Parliamentarian Rajiva Wijesinha, who is also advisor to the President on reconciliation. Spokesperson Veliko said there were no immediate plans for UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navanethem Pillay to visit Sri Lanka. The UN resolution in March this year encouraged the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with, and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka, “advice and technical assistance on implementing” the provisions of the resolution. It also called upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report on the provision of such assistance to the Human Rights Council during its 22nd sessions in March next year. Among other matters, the resolution called upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the “constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. It also called upon the government to take all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.]]>

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