Sri Lanka moves to avoid criticism over rights abuses

Sept 14, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka said Friday it was ready to accept foreign scrutiny of its human rights record in a bid to head off formal United Nations criticism over a spate of killings and disappearances. At the same time the war-torn island’s government, locked in a decades-old war with Tamil Tiger separatists, also argued that criticism of authorities in Colombo would play into the hands of rebel “terrorists.”

The move comes as the UN Human Rights Council discusses Sri Lanka’s rights record in Geneva, with diplomatic sources saying European Union member states were mulling a resolution condemning Colombo.

“The proposed EU initiative cannot be regarded as an appropriate way to constructively engage a country, which has a long-standing policy of openness and cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms,” Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said in a statement.

Meeting with the British High Commissioner Dominic Chilcott, the minister said such a resolution would be “sensationalised by media and abused by the LTTE for its own propaganda purposes.”

“The LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is a terrorist organisation and international agencies must avoid providing a lifeline to the LTTE