By Channel4– Jonathan Miller –
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay tells Channel 4 News that she is “deeply disturbed” by the shooting of a Sri Lankan journalist and calls on the Sri Lankan government to protect him.
In an exclusive interview with Channel 4 News, Navi Pillay urged the Sri Lankan government to “provide immediate protection” for Faraz Shaukatally, who is currently in intensive care after being shot by three unidentified gunmen on Friday night.
Ms Pillay said: “It’s an act of attempted assassination so he needs to be protected immediately.”
Mr Shauketaly, 52, who holds joint British and Sri Lankan citizenship, is a reporter for the Sri Lankan newspaper The Sunday Leader.
Ms Pillay said “I’m deeply disturbed by this particular shooting because it’s a journalist and he’s attached to a newspaper that’s known to be critical of the government – particularly on accountability and in justice issues – which are issues that I cover. And I will be reporting to the Human Rights Council my concern over extra judicial killings, abductions and this kind of treatment and suppression of freedom of expression.”
The newspaper’s editor Sakunthala Perera said the journalist was shot while he was on the telephone discussing a story due to appear in this week’s edition.
Police said three men broke into his house and opened fire on him while he was in his bedroom. The journalist, whose family live in Colywn Bay in Wales, was rushed to hospital with bullet wounds in his neck.
Time to ‘demonstrate’ integrity
Though he has miraculously survived, Mr Shaukatally is undergoing further tests in intensive care ahead of surgery. In 2009 an editor from the same newspaper was killed and other members of staff have also been attcked. No arrests have been made to date.
Today the Sunday Leader’s website reported that Sri Lanka’s Presdient Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered a special investigation into the shooting incident.
However, when asked about suggestions that the government could have been involved in the shooting, Ms Pillay told Channel 4 News: “That’s why there has to be a proper investigation before we can conclude that. In the meantime it’s law enforcement that has to provide him protection. And it would demonstrate on the part of the government that they care if one of their citizens is fired upon. Everybody should care (about) who are the people who are going around shooting other people. This is what law enforcement is about.
“The Sri Lankan government swears by the integrity of their army and their police, well it’s time they demonstrated that. These institutions built into the democracy must now begin to work properly and this is an immediate instance where they can demonstrate that. ”
She said Sri Lanka must provide a credible investigation involving the civil society, because “if it is done by the government or the police themselves they do not enjoy the confidence of the people at this stage.”
Human rights record
Sri Lanka’s rights record has been subject to criticsim over alleged excesses during the military’s final phase in defeating Tamil Tiger seperatists. Rights groups say the military killed thousands of minority ethnic Tamil civilians in the final weeks of the conflict.
Ms Pillay praised Channel 4’s investigative report, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, on the last few weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war, broadcast in 2011.
She said: “Let me say how much Channel 4’s information is appreciated because you have brought this to the fore. I myself mandated by the Human Rights Council have been filing reports on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka – we will be reviewing that again in March, but I have consistently called for a credible international investigation particularly of the occurrences in the last few days of the conflict.”
She added that she was frustrated by the Sri Lankan government’s lack of investigation, with offers of UN help, to establish what happened at the end of the country’s civil conflict.
The Sri Lankan government has rejected allegations of mass killings and has been dismissive of Ms Pillay’s calls for investigation, alongside her calls for the demilitarisation of the Vanni region.
But Ms Pillay insists: “We want to provide them with expert investigative assistance, we are ready to provide this kind of assistance and I’m really disappointed it has not been taken up.”
She added: “It’s particularly bad because this was government forces firing on civilians indiscriminately – they were shelled and the normal responsibility of governments is to protect people – not to kill them.”
Criticism was also levelled at the UN which was in Sri Lanka at the time of the alleged atrocities and whose people were withdrawn.
She said: “I think that is deeply disturbing because it’s a repetition of the criticism that was levelled against the United Nations during the Rwandan genocide and there was a report done after that with recommendations.
“Now, to the credit of the secretary general he set up the Petrie Commission to look at the UN’s failures in handling the Sri Lankan conflict and I very much encouraged that, I’ve read the report and I’m urging now the United Nations to take steps to come up with action plans to implement those recommendations so that the United Nations doesn’t repeat these kind of failures.”
Watch her interview with the Channel4 here.
Jonathan Miller blog: Sri Lanka - skeletons in the cupboard?
DeBarge / February 16, 2013
As a resident of Sri Lankan I am deeply disturbed by the shooting. But it bemuses me that Navi Pillay is concerned about a single shooting in Sri Lanka. Why does she not mention the hundreds of journalists killed or injured in Russia, Mexico, Arab world, Eastern Europe to name a few. Is she even aware about Aaron Swartz, the anti-govt activist who died under strange circumstances in New York? It is quite apparent that Ms Pillay has a personal vendetta against Sri Lanka. Shameful.
Jayantha / February 17, 2013
We don’t care what’s going on in Russia or Eastern Europe, Mexico, Arab World or anywhere else. Infact at the moment Sri Lanka is worse than many of these countries and have fallen to bottom of the list to 165th place in world’s Human rights violaters and freedom of speech record.
So you want to wait till MARA goons comne into your house and rape your son, daughter, wife and mother in front of you to complain to Navi Pillay……….I think you have lost your Ba…lls.
it is we who asked Navi Pillay to come to our assistant and to be concern about Sri Lanka since we have a ponna no concern opposition leader like you when our women been raped and robbed by MARA thug parliament goon murderers,criminals, drug dealers, cheaters and commission kakkas while the ponna opposition leader and MARA supporter and crook JR’s Nephew Ranil who is now MARA’s biggest pandam karaya and who is ruining UNP party.
We cannot allow any dictator to rule our country. Using state terrorism to supress freedom of speech or free media and killing Journalists are un acceptable. Also suppressing Judiciary, police powers,peoples protests, killing and abducting etc…all are unacceptable in a democratic country.
Since we do not have a opposition leader to fight for our rights, it is International community that we seek for help and it is they who should support us.
The ever crook MARA Nanthikandal 100,000 or more mass murderer still killing our free media personal and yesterday it was another victim of this blood thirsty sucker, an editor at Leader newspaper.
All people should unite to have a plan to face this Lunatic dictator family from anihilating our innocent and helpless population from total extinction and from people like you who are ever supporting them for giving you your pound of frlesh for taking their side.
Ever since the humiliation Indian tour and after RAW confirmed India’s stand against MARA dictator,and also after CW secretary General’s visit now MR has gone wild and looking for soft spots to get cheap attention, while assassination attempts are made on Leader Journalist is to release some of that frustration.
I shall strongly recommend to citizens to rally behind a strong leader as the current UNP JR’s crook nephew coward is only consern of his safety and his supreme parliament 87 million rupee seat not giving a hoot to people’s needs, concerns and rights.
IT IS TIME TO SEEK FOR A NEW UNP LEADER WHO WON’T LET DOWN THE PEOPLE, WHO WILL LEAD THE PEOPLE TO ULTIMATE VICTORY AND RELEASE THEM FROM MARA DICTATOR’S CLUTCHES.
I AM SURPRISE AS TO THE PATIENCE UNP MP’S HAVE TO KEEP RANIL STILL AT HIS SEAT WITHOUT KICKING HIM OUT FROM THE LEADERSHIP AND INSTALL A NEW LEADER.
P.B / February 17, 2013
What planet are you from you alien? Is this only one journalist shot in Sri Lanka? What do we care about Mexico. Let us clean our back yards first
JimSofty / February 18, 2013
Has Navi Pillai has talked any thing about Western countries – USA, Britain, France their allies responsibility in thousands of innocent Syrian civilians getting killed.
Because, she is biased.
How about, innocent people getting killed in MALI, in her own continent, in the name of killing muslim-rebels.
Aney Apochchi! / February 27, 2013
Your half-truths and insinuations CANNOT conceal the fact that Sri Lanka, since the ascent of its current rulers, has been deemed one of THE most dangerous places for journalists anywhere in the world. And that classification includes places like Syria where actual WARS are in progress.
Put up or shut up!
Safa / February 17, 2013
There is no doubt that govt officials or politicians are involved in the shooting. Who else has a motive. Also the act carried out on orders given since the would be assasins were armed, came on motor cycles and acted with impunity without any fear. Clearly they had no personal motive other than money.
Piyathilake / February 17, 2013
People should not be worried or concerned about UNHCR’s stand on Sri Lanka then and now. It does serve no purpose. It is true that in 1989 when about 80,000 Sinhalese boys were massacred in this country, this international body maintained complete silence. But fact remains that the situation has been changed for better, which we all should appreciate. Now this body is more concerned and vigilant of what is happening in this 5 star democracy and other failed states. Every citizen of Sri Lanka, belongs to all ethnic communities should appreciate this change, except the government’s hit squads, corrupt elements in the government and the opposition.
AYMAN / February 17, 2013
YOU ARE STUPID.WHY SHOULD SHE HAVE A PERSONAL VENDETTA,AS YOU MENTION. AS SRI LANKANS WE SHOULD ALL BE CONCERNED BY THE DETERIORATING LAW
AND ORDER SITUATION IN OUR COUNTRY !!!
AND PARTICULARLY WHEN THE MEDIA IS TARGETTED.
WHY AREN’T THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR LASANTHA’S AND OTHER KILLINGS BROUGHT TO BOOK.
JUST THAT IT IS ALL DONE BY THE “RAJAPAKSE MAFIA”
K.A. Sumanasekera / February 17, 2013
Iraqis who were liberated under the Un mandate are still getting killed and maimed on a monthly basis.
That is how many years after the liberation?.
Afganis are in no better position. Are they?.
Syrians are getting bombed , massacred and chased out into Turkey in thousands.
Ms Navai Pillay seems not worried a bit.
Is she so engrossed in getting Rajapaksa ,that she has no time for these Muslims?.
Or she couldn’t care less as long as she gets Rajapaksa?,
Aney Apochchi! / February 26, 2013
Isn’t it time you stopped displaying your propensity for “Koheda yanne, malle pol” comments or are you determined to establish yourself as THE idiot writing to this publication?
We hope that Faraz Shauketaly is not as full of holes as his story in last Sunday’s Leader. If he was, he’d be stone dead.
The Daily Mirror video of him moving about quite freely, supposedly after being shot and prior to the ambulance taking him to hospital, suggests a pea-shooter and NOT the 9 mm sidearm that he suggests “got” him (more than once!)
This is, very obviously, a totally put-up job and the soap-opera will have its culmination before the Geneva sessions when it will be REVEALED by Keheliya Rambukwella, probably, that this was a CIA/RAW/MI5 plot, lwith the connivance of some or all of the INGOs and/or NGOs to discredit the pristine Sri Lanka government. Both Grimm and Aesop can then hang their heads in shame at their lack of imagination!
Mahadana Muththa (Jnr) / February 17, 2013
Isn’t this the Journalist who exposed the massive CEB corruption in the Sunday Leader? And after that a cabinet reshuffle happened and the Minister in charge was replaced.
This same Journalist exposed the Kotelawalas becoming a ‘protected species’ by MARA & Co.
Gunatunga / February 17, 2013
This is the journalist who exposed Mohan Peiris’s attemp’s to cover-up the 619 Colombo Dockyard fraud in the Sunday Leader. I understand that role played by Mohan Peiris is now being challenged before the Supreme Court.
Richards / February 17, 2013
After this shooting incident, in fear of persecution the Customs Officer who challenged Mohan Peiris’ gross misconduct before the Supreme Court, also has complained to the Police.
Senguttuvan / February 17, 2013
The regime’s white-wash brigade has already fired its initial salvo by
saying the journo owned a Guest House at Barnes Avenue off Hotel Road in Mt Lavinia and the shooting, therefore, is as a result of a private
dispute. It is now up to the men of the calibre of Rajpal, Malinda S,
Thadi Prema and other hacks to obfuscate the issue until the next shooting/killing.
EDL Robinson / February 17, 2013
We too are Deeply disturbed Miss Pillay, read what the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has to say about SA:
17 February 2013
South Africa has a very high level of crime, including rape and murder (there were several cases of murder involving resident British Nationals during 2009/10).
Incidents of vehicle hi-jacking and robbery are common. You should be vigilant of the risks, particularly if driving after dark……there were incidents involving foreigners being followed from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to their destinations by car and then robbed, often at gunpoint.
There are frequent incidents of car windows being broken and valuables (e.g. handbags) taken whilst cars are waiting at junctions (smash and grab).
Local Travel –
You should avoid Berea and Hillbrow. There is a high level of muggings around the Rotunda bus terminal in the Central Business District.
In all areas of South Africa, you should be cautious when out after dark…be vigilant at all times in Durban’s city centre and beach front area.
Do not stop to assist apparently distressed motorists, as this is a technique sometimes used by hijackers.
Avoid isolated beaches and picnic spots across South Africa. Walking alone anywhere, especially in remote areas, is not advised and hikers should stick to popular trails.
Given the high level of HIV/AIDS in the country, seek immediate medical advice if you are sexually assaulted or otherwise injured.
SHOCKING, TRULY SHOCKING Miss PILLAY!
Wuliangguobinjiu / February 18, 2013
Robinson says”(there were several cases of murder involving resident British Nationals during 2009/10)”
Quarrelsome Robin she is just doing her job you dim poof.
Say something about the assassination of a fellow citizen if you are one.
EDL Robinson / February 19, 2013
I was talking about my fellow citizens – British Nationals – killed by Miss Pillay’s countrymen.
She’s not doing her job, she is distracted by her own problems.
Chandra / February 18, 2013
just another example of the UN’s ignoring of what is going on here but just making silly statements….’deeply disturbed’ my foot!
Basil Jarapaksha / February 18, 2013
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
Naga / February 18, 2013
This latest outburst from Naveethan Pillai demonstrates once again that she has lost all objectivity.
She says “…it’s law enforcement that has to provide him protection. And it would demonstrate on the part of the government that they care if one of their citizens is fired upon. Everybody should care (about) who are the people who are going around shooting other people. This is what law enforcement is about.”
Government cannot be giving round the clock protection to all the journalists in Sri Lanka.
No one knows for certain who was behind the shooting incident.This shooting may not necessarily be related to his work as a jouranalist. Someone may be settling a private score unrelated to his work as a journalist. Knowing well that this incident will be blown out of proprotion by the NGO lobby SL government has immediately ordered an inquiry.
Many Sri Lankan journalists engage in various other activities outside their job. Some are involved in business activities. Some even get involved in politics. These are activities where one easily makes enemies.
Navin Pillai is lecturing to the Sri Lankan government about law enforcement. She should lecture first to the government of her home country South Africa. South African Police killed in cold blood 34 striking South African miners last year which was big news for several days. Reporting on this incident which happened in Äugust last year, Al Jazeera said as follows:
“Al Jazeera has learned that some of the South African miners who were shot dead at the Marikana mine last month may have been trying to surrender. At least 34 men died when police opened fire on striking workers at the platinum mine, 100km north of Johannesburg.”
Did Pillai convene a press conference to condemn that killing? Nein.