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UNHRC probe to cover violations from 2002-2009

Comments / 4001 Views / Tuesday, 25 March 2014 00:35

  • Third draft text of US resolution on Sri Lanka circulated in Geneva
  • Sets up time-frame for OHCHR inquiry into violations in Sri Lanka
  • Draft resolution sticks to period of conflict studied by LLRC
  • Draft provides no mandate for probing post-war abuses
  • Amends operative paragraph on NPC to cover all provincial councils
By Dharisha Bastians An international probe into allegations of human rights violations will be confined to the last seven years of the war in Sri Lanka and will have no mandate to investigate post-war abuses, according to the latest draft of the US sponsored resolution to be taken up in Geneva this week. The third and likely final draft of the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka lays out a time-frame for the investigation into human rights violations in the island that covers the period of the armed conflict between 2002-2009. The latest draft was circulated at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday. The crucial vote on the Sri Lanka resolution will take place on Thursday (27), with the Council reserving its final session day on Friday for ‘other business.’ The time frame of violations to be investigated by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will also include the ‘ceasefire years’ from 2002-2004, when the Sri Lankan Government engaged in peace talks with the LTTE, while a Scandinavian mission monitored the truce. Operative paragraph 8 of the US resolution has now been altered to mandate the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate human rights abuses and violations in Sri Lanka, “during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission”. Where the second draft mandated the OHCHR “to lead” a comprehensive independent investigation, yesterday’s draft amends the text to read, “to undertake”. The latest draft amends the paragraph setting up the OHCHR investigation into abuses in Sri Lanka as follows: “Takes note of the High Commissioner’s recommendations and conclusions regarding ongoing human rights violations and the need for an international inquiry mechanism in the absence of a credible national process with tangible results, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner: (b)to undertake a comprehensive independent investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka, during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures.” The amendment means that the OHCHR will not have a mandate to probe allegations of human rights abuses in the post-war period. The LLRC, which was the Government’s ‘home-grown’ solution to mounting international calls for reconciliation and accountability, studied the conflict between the signing of the ceasefire agreement (CFA) in February 2002 and the conclusion of the war with the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. The time-frame of the investigation had been the subject of major discussion at the final informal meeting on the Sri Lanka resolution convened by the US in Geneva last Tuesday (18), as reported in Daily FT. The only other significant change in the resolution text that will be officially submitted to the UN Human Rights Council by the co-sponsors shortly is the alteration to the operative paragraph dealing with governance powers for the Northern Provincial Council. Some member states supporting Sri Lanka against the US resolution had pointed out that to single out the Northern Provincial Council in the paragraph, when there were eight other provincial governments in Sri Lanka was inappropriate, during last week’s informal discussion, it is learnt. Where the first draft of the US resolution called on the Sri Lankan Government to “provide the Northern PC and its Chief Minister with the resources and authority to govern” and the second draft amended it to call on the Government “to ensure the Northern PC is able to operate effectively in line with the 13th Amendment”, the third draft amends that paragraph to include all provincial councils in the island, as follows:  “Encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that all provincial councils, including the Northern Provincial Council are able to operate effectively in line with the 13th Amendment of Sri Lanka’s constitution.” Further amendments to the resolution text are possible in the remaining days leading up to the vote, but they will only be made orally.

 Mahanayakes to send SOS to Geneva

  • GL meets chief prelates in Kandy for briefing on US resolution
  • Tells monks Pillay is not fit to lead probe against Sri Lanka
  • Warns that the resolution seeks to establish an alternative Govt.
Chief Prelates from the four major Buddhist monastic orders will issue a missive to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, urging the Council to refrain from adopting a resolution on Sri Lanka this week that will set up an international probe into rights violations in the country. The chief monks have called on religious leaders from all other communities to lend their support to the letter that will be drafted and dispatched to Geneva within the next three days. The decision follows a meeting between all four chief prelates in Kandy yesterday with External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris. Following the meeting, Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter Ven. Udugama Sri Ratnapala Buddharakitha Thera said it was necessary to correct perceptions in the world about the situation in Sri Lanka. “There is a great injustice being done to the Government and to this country’s Sinhala Buddhist population, by these misconceptions,” the Thera said. Minister Peiris told the chief monks that countries moving the resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC were attempting to establish an alternative government in the island. “This resolution even goes as far as to dictate the relationship between the Northern Chief Minister and the Central Government. These are not matters that concern foreign countries. Minister Peiris said that the US resolution attempts to empower other countries to make decisions about Sri Lanka and implement them. We can’t agree to that,” the Minister told the Chief Monks. The Minister said the only safeguard against international intervention was Sri Lankan unity. “Our people have to unite and face this then foreign forces cannot successfully intervene. In other countries, the first thing that happened was anarchy to create the platform for invasion,” he explained. Minister Peiris said the Chief Prelates should include in their letter to the UNHRC that Sri Lanka was being unfairly targeted and that the resolution leaves nothing for the elected government in Sri Lanka to do. The Minister said the prelates’ letter should also deal with how unsuitable UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay is to lead an investigation into Sri Lanka. “She has always conducted affairs in a biased way. Is it in keeping with the UN Charter for the investigation to be led by a person who has consistently proved her bias?” the Minister explained. He said a letter to the UNHRC in Geneva from the monks that include these points would be very helpful. (DB)

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