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Pillay progresses amidst protests

• Meets Hakeem, Vasu, CJ and AG • Rise of religious extremism and fate of PTA take priority at Hakeem, Vasu talks • Weliweriya and legal reforms including fast-tracking ex-combatant trials discussed • Monks lead demonstration outside UN compound against visiting envoy By Uditha Jayasinghe and Dharisha Bastians-August 27, 2013

Pillay met with the Chief Justice. Pillay remained tight-lipped during her exit from Hakeem’s office despite being mobbed by media.Talking tough as expected. fast-tracking excombatant cases and steps taken to enact the Right to Information Act. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay yesterday placed heavy focus on the rise of religious extremism in Sri Lanka and the Government’s failure to roll back the contentious Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) during successive discussions with Senior Ministers in Colombo. Following her arrival in Sri Lanka on Sunday. The UN Envoy also questioned Government progress on institutional and legal reforms pertaining to detainees. Subsequently the Justice Minister held a trilingual press conference and debriefed reporters on the wide-ranging discussions that had taken place. Hakeem acknowledged that issues relating to accountability and criminal justice as well as on legal and institutional reforms related to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report and the National Human Rights Action Plan were touched upon. Attorney General and Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem before making a delayed exit from the Supreme Court complex to meet National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara last morning. . victim and witness protection.

where we have released a statement calling on the President to take decisive action against the perpetrators of these issues which amount to hate crime and also explained to her the steps taken by my colleague Vasudeva Nanayakkara to introduce hate speech as a criminal offence under the Penal Code. the fact that we are able to engage with her so freely is a great source of pride to us. which the Government has been unenthusiastic about. where again I explained to her the collective position of all Ministers representing the Muslim community in Government. “There were also other questions relating to detainees. with details being given on ongoing investigations and the latest step of putting the Police under a new ministry.“I have explained in detail the steps that have been taken both by my Ministry as well as the other State agencies. if at all. which have been tasked with the responsibility of implementing those recommendations. to abolish it forever. I think she was happy with our responses. which has been presented as a Cabinet paper.” During her meeting with Minister Nanayakkara. “We have shown her our commitment to try and dispose of these cases as speedily as possible including special courts that we have been able to sanction. the abolition of the PTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act). Hakeem had pointed out that a draft had been handed over to the Media Ministry and it was now their responsibility to enact it. she also posed a few politically-related issues pertaining to the recent incidents of intolerance. that we will be compelled to retain the PTA for the time being as we still have national security concerns and that statute will remain in our statute book until we decide that the time is right.” he told media Discussions had also revolved around recommendations made in the LLRC regarding legal and institutional reform. particularly religious intolerance by attacks on mosques and the like. Hakeem noted.” he added. Shootings in Weliweriya were also brought up. regarding which we have stated the Government policy. some of whom are already in judicial custody while others are being held under special PTA provisions. In addition to that. Hakeem went on to say that Government officials had also explained to her in detail about special attention being taken by the Ministry to speedily dispose of pending cases pertaining to ex-combatants. the Minister briefed the UN Human Rights Chief on the proposed anti-hate legislation introduced by his Ministry and also . Hakeem had assured Pillay that the Victim and Witness Protection Bill has been submitted to Cabinet for the second time after some refinement of the Act as suggested by the Attorney General’s Department. When the High Commissioner raised the Right to Information Act.

” Nanayakkara reportedly told the media following his discussions with the UN Envoy. we will do anything.” . Nanayakkara told reporters: “I don’t know if she is happy or not with what I had to say. He also told High Commissioner Pillay that his Ministry was focused on changing the northern signage to ensure the demography of the Northern Province was represented.explained the Government’s latest attempt to consult on devolution with the recently constituted Parliamentary Select Committee. the 13th Amendment would be reinforced. Minister Nanayakkara explained that in the event of a TNA win in the Northern Provincial Council elections. despite recent Government plans to dilute the provisions of the legislation. “I explained to her that for the sake of national unity. Having briefed Pillay on the work of his Ministry.