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    Lanka's record undermines claim for a place in UN rights body

    New York (PTI): Alleging that Sri Lanka's human rights record has worsened and the country has failed promises to improve, a coalition of over 20 NGOs on wednesday said these factors undermine its claim for a place on the UN Human Rights Council.

    The United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to hold elections on May 21 to replace the retiring members of the 47-member Council, the United Nations' leading human rights body.

    In a letter to UN members, the NGO Coalition for an Effective Human Rights Council alleged that Sri Lankan forces have in the past two years been implicated in a wide range of serious abuses, including hundreds of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention.

    Sri Lanka obstructs the work of the council's own appointed human rights experts, ignores their recommendations, publicly attacks senior UN officials who speak out on human rights issues, and has been unwilling to engage in serious discussions regarding UN human rights monitoring, it alleged.

    The coalition admitted that the armed separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have long been implicated in serious human rights abuses, but says this provides no justification for government abuses.

    Sri Lanka pledged when it joined the Human Rights Council in 2006 to implement recommendations from UN bodies but has notably failed to do so, the letter alleged.

    Six candidates Bahrain, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Timor Leste are running for four seats allocated to Asian states.

    "Many countries have human rights problems, but Sri Lanka truly stands out amongst this year's candidates," said Michael Anthony, programme coordinator of the Asian Human Rights Commission.

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