Lanka bars rights monitors

Colombo, May 22:

Sri Lanka’s hawkish government today angrily ruled out allowing foreign monitoring of the island’s human rights situation after being denied a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The war-torn country’s foreign minister also blamed the diplomatic drubbing on what he alleged was an anti-government conspiracy by international rights groups in league with Tamil Tiger rebels.

“I reiterate our position again — we don’t see a need for a foreign body to monitor us. We have the necessary laws and procedures in place to monitor cases of human rights,” Rohitha Bogollagama told reporters.

Sri Lanka secured 101 votes at the UN’s 192-member General Assembly but this was not enough to beat the other Asian nations competing for the diplomatically prestigious seats on the UN Human Rights Council that are alloted to the region.

“We don’t see the vote as a defeat, it’s not a setback,” Bogollagama said. Human Rights Watch has branded Sri Lanka one of the world’s worst perpetrators of “disappearances” and abductions. But Bogollagama said INGOs “representing the LTTE carried out the campaign against us”.