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Last updated: 06 October, 2011 - Published 16:23 GMT
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New action plan for human rights
Government of Sri Lanka says that it has approved a new action plan to address human rights issues in the face of international pressure over war crimes allegations arising from the last stages of the civil war.

Sri Lanka at UN
Sri Lanka at UN

The government say the new plan is a voluntary pledge made by Sri Lanka during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2008.

A Statement issued by the government say that the Proposed Action Plan will 'develop more awareness of human rights compliance among the general public and other specific sectors'.

Cabinet of Ministers gave consent

Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe told journalists in Colombo on Thursday that the action plan was approved by the cabinet of ministers on Wednesday .

However, addressing the UNHCR in September in Geneva Special Envoy Samarasinghe gave an earlier date as the day of approval.

"Just last week the Cabinet of Ministers gave consent to this very important document," Minister Samarasinghe told the UNHRC of a five-year national action plan on human rights.

Maximum publicity

Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe said the implementation of the Action Plan is said to begin immediately.

Samarasinghe stated in Colombo that the progress on the implementation of the Action Plan is to be presented at the next UN Human Rights Council in March next year.

"We will give the action plan maximum publicity and inform everyone on the progress of implementing it," he said.

While details of the plan were not disclosed, the statement issued by the government said it would largely involve setting up committees to monitor implementation of existing laws and to ensure better understanding and respect for civil rights.

Sri Lanka ignored commitments

However, expressing scepticism, Amnesty International has accused Sri Lanka of "ignoring" commitments made in 2008 UPR, "including promises to take all necessary measures to prosecute and punish perpetrators of a variety of violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law."

Earlier, a report compiled by a UN expert panel highlighted "credible" allegations of abuses by government troops in their final victory over Tamil rebels.

Rejected allegation

Several foreign governments and human rights groups have called for an independent probe into charges that the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers were responsible for alleged war crimes in the last stages of the war in May 2009.

The Sri Lankan government rejects the allegations and has refused to any investigation into the events.

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