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UN human rights chief tells Sri Lankan president to ‘speed up‘

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein met with Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena in New York on Friday to discuss progress on human rights on the island.

Though the United Nations is yet to release a statement on the meeting, the Sri Lankan President’s Media Division (PMD) claimed the human rights chief told Mr Sirisena that he would “be more satisfied if this journey of Sri Lankan government will be speeded up”.

According to the Sri Lankan government, Mr Sirisena also told the UN high commissioner that “all lands in the East which were under the control of security forces have now been released”.

Mr Sirisena also reportedly said “that a substantial extent of lands in the North also have been released”. “He said the rest will be released to the people after solving the relevant administrative issues,” according to the PMD.

The Sri Lankan president was also said to have stated that “two years are sufficient for Sri Lanka to complete the matters adopted by UNHRC resolution”.

Earlier this month, the High Commissioner addressed the UN Human Rights Council noting frustration over the “slow pace of reforms” in Sri Lanka and said the absence of action on accountability meant exercising universal jurisdiction was “even more necessary”.

He went on to call for “a clear timeline and benchmarks” from the Sri Lankan government on the implementation of a UN resolution on accountability for mass atrocities.