Top UN rights official in India, meets activists (Lead)

March 22nd, 2009 - 7:23 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay arrived here Sunday on a two-day visit and discussed the situation in Sri Lanka with rights activists here.
Pillay is also to meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P. Chidambaram as well as members of the judiciary besides delivering a keynote lecture at the National Human Rights Commission.

Pillay came from Nepal where she held separate meetings with President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, an informed source said.

This is Pillay’s first official visit to Asia since taking up her post in September last year.

In Nepal, she surveyed one of the largest country operations of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

After arriving here, Pillay met activists from the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), including its president K.G. Kannabiran and others including S. Balamurugan and V. Suresh.

Some of them voiced concern over the condition of civilians trapped in Sri Lanka’s conflict zone and alleged human rights abuses there.

Pillay, 68, was an attorney and conveyancer of the High Court of South Africa from 1967 to 1995, and the first woman to start a law practice in South Africa’s Natal Province, providing legal defence for opponents of apartheid, according to the UN website.

While in South Africa, she co-founded the Advice Desk for the Abused and ran a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

As a member of the Women’s National Coalition, she contributed to the inclusion in South Africa’s constitution of an equality clause prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation.

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