News / Europe

    UN Rights Official Calls for Investigation into Ukraine, Sri Lanka

    FILE - A Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil girl applies vermillion on the forehead of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in red, as she welcomes her at a vocational training center in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka, Aug. 27, 2013.
    FILE - A Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil girl applies vermillion on the forehead of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in red, as she welcomes her at a vocational training center in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka, Aug. 27, 2013.
    Lisa Schlein
    The top U.N. human rights official is calling for independent international investigations into human rights violations in Ukraine and Sri Lanka.  Navi Pillay highlighted these two key issues in her annual report on human rights crises around the world.   

    This was Pillay’s final annual report to the U.N. Council before stepping down as High Commissioner for Human Rights in August.  She reflected with pride upon the accomplishments of her office during her six-year tenure.  But expressed sorrow for the many challenges and implacable brutality that cause so much grievous suffering around the world.  

    Pillay spoke about the need to strengthen accountability and about the dangers of allowing states and individuals to commit gross human rights violations with impunity.   

    “Nearly five years on from the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, I regret that the government has failed to satisfy the Council’s call for a credible and independent investigation into allegations of serious human rights violations," she said. "I am therefore recommending that the time has come for the Council to establish its own international inquiry mechanism, which I believe can play a positive role where domestic mechanisms have failed.”   

    The Sri Lankan government has rejected an international inquiry into possible war crimes by government forces and separatist Tamil Tigers during a 26-year civil war.  The Sinhalese government accuses Pillay, who is a South African of Tamil ancestry, of being biased - an accusation she denies.

    Pillay also called for an independent investigation into all human rights violations that have taken place in Ukraine in recent months.   

    “These include killings, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment," she said. "I strongly believe that respect for human rights norms and standards, building a society that is inclusive of the rights of all, is key to finding a peaceful and durable solution to the current crisis.”   

    Pillay said that a senior human rights officer has been sent to Ukraine and other staff members would follow.

    Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador Yurii Klymenko took the floor at the Council to denounce the illegal entry of Russian armed forces on the territory of his country.   

    “We are confident that with appropriate backing of international community in guaranteeing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of my country as well as in resolving ... economic problems, Ukraine will keep the difficult, but right track we are back on,” he said.

    Pillay also raised concerns about protecting human rights in the context of counter-terrorism and armed drones.  She spoke with particular passion about the harm caused by discrimination to people all around the world.  

    She described the work of her office in trying to help victims of sexual violence in armed conflict in Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia.  She urged nations not to forget the unspeakable violations occurring in Syria and North Korea.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Shiva from: Canada
    March 07, 2014 3:33 PM
    Everyone should have known by now that the Sri Lankan regime …

    a. is not interested in providing the Tamils any meaningful solution
    b. will provide no democracy, rule of law, Justice or R2P to the Tamils
    c. will not treat the Tamils are equal citizens
    d. continues to attack, intimidate, commit ethnic cleansing and land grab from the Tamils
    e. continues to deny accountability, rule of law and Justice
    f. is an authoritarian regime with full use of armed forces, attack, abductions, torture and murder of innocents with full impunity
    g. ignore crimes such as only last week a Tamil British citizen was tortured and murdered in police custody
    h. will not punish the killers of the 17 French charity workers who were murdered in cold blood
    i. An alleged criminal regime elected by the hard core Sinhala Buddhist Apartheid chauvinists. Hence there will never be any reconciliation and only Eelam for the Tamils is the only viable solution to live in peace, stability and prosperity.
    In Response

    by: Kushan from: New York -USA
    March 07, 2014 11:33 PM
    Sri Lanka took necessary steps to defeat an extremely dangerous, Tamil Terrorist Group. And they did defeat them. In any country, when there is a conflict, there are going to be causalities. But Sri Lankan armed forces took utmost precautions, and humane initiatives to protect "TAMILS". Otherwise they could have just shelled the hell out! Thats why this war took this long.

    by: Victim Tamil from: UK
    March 06, 2014 9:10 PM
    Srilanaka state terrorism blamed Madam Louise Arbour also in the same way. Any body who is neutral and who speaks the truth is branded as LTTE by Srilanka sate terrorism. Srilanka sate terrorism will never conduct a genuine, open and impartial internal inquiry. Because the main criminals of this total crime (genocide, ethnics cleaning, and crime against humanity) are Rajapksa family. it has been proved in all possible ways (photos, eyewitness, videos, satellite images, and phone recordings, etc..).

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora