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Cuba thwarts human rights debate on Sri Lanka

European countries, including Switzerland, have failed in their attempt at the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that human rights are respected in Sri Lanka.

This content was published on May 27, 2009 - 21:58

At the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday, Cuba blocked any debate on amendments put forward by Germany on a text submitted by the Sri Lankan government on the situation in the country.

The Cuban representative accused the Europeans of "arrogance and intransigence", saying the proposed amendments would completely "rewrite" the Sri Lankan text.

Switzerland's ambassador, Dante Martinelli, protested strongly against the Cuban motion.

He said there were "major gaps" in the Sri Lankan resolution. It did not address the issue of granting humanitarian organisations rapid access to people displaced by the recent fighting, nor the need for the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate alleged human rights violations.

Earlier this month the Sri Lankan government declared an end to the 25 year war against Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for a separate state in the north of the island. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were driven from their homes and thousands were reported killed during the last stages of the fighting.

The UN says nearly 300,000 Tamils are currently in displacement camps. They are reported to be in need of humanitarian aid.

The Sri Lankan text adopted by the council meeting mentions only human rights violations committed by Tamil Tigers.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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