Sri Lanka accuses UN rights chief of ‘transgressing mandate’

COLOMBO, September 1, 2013 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Sunday hit back at UN rights chief Navi Pillay for “transgressing” her mandate, a day after she accused President Mahinda Rajapakse’s regime of becoming increasingly authoritarian. Colombo approved Pillay’s visit after previously accusing her of overstepping her mandate. The U-turn came as Canada led calls for a boycott of a Commonwealth summit due to take place in Colombo in mid-November.

In March, the UN passed a resolution pressing Sri Lanka to more thoroughly investigate alleged war crimes. The government said the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights violated the “basic norms” that should have been observed by an international civil servant when she criticised the Sri Lankan administration.

“The High Commissioner’s observation that Sri Lanka is showing signs of ‘heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction’ is a political statement on her part, which clearly transgresses her mandate,” a government statement said.

Pillay on Saturday ended a fact-finding mission to probe allegations of war crimes, four years after the end of a Tamil separatist war that according to UN estimates claimed up to 100,000 lives between 1972 and 2009.

A no-holds-ba