Monday, 21 July 2014 00:12
The UN team, which has been put together to investigate allegations of human rights violations and war crimes against the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE, will be holding hearings in New York, Geneva and Bangkok, UN sources have told the New Indian Express.
The team constituted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), would of course seek permission to hold sittings in Sri Lanka. But it is unlikely to get it as the Lankan government has rejected any international probe.
Sources told the New Indian Express that Tamil expatriates and Lankan Tamil rights groups which are very active in North America, Europe and Australia, would testify at New York, Geneva and Bangkok. Tamils living in Lanka would be interacting through telephone, video conferencing and skype. Rights groups in Lanka might organise such interactions besides travelling abroad to testify.
There is no law in Sri Lanka to bar any citizen from testifying before a UN body, but government ministers have publicly warned that those bad mouthing Lanka at the UN inquiry would be dealt with. In the absence of a witness protection law, witnesses could be subjected to intimidation as has been the case in Lanka so far. However, as the proceedings of the Lankan government’s own Disappearances Commission show, witnesses could brave threats and testify fearlessly. To protect witnesses against intimidation by pro-government groups, the UN team might keep their identities secret for 20 years as the earlier Darusman panel on Lanka did.