Says copy to be presented to the UN but insists that efforts by organisations to undermine Sri Lanka’s sovereignty will not be allowed
By Uditha Jayasinghe
In an apparent effort to create more credibility the government yesterday outlined plans to present a copy of the final report from the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to the United Nations and assured that negative aspects would not be blotted out.
Responding to questions at the weekly Cabinet briefing Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella noted that the refusal by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to testify before the LLRC was indicative of an international conspiracy.
He reiterated that the government would not allow organisations to infringe on the sovereignty of the nation by becoming “puppet masters” but insisted that if specific grievances and abuses are pointed out they would be addressed through internal measures.
“What we are saying is that there was no organised plan by the government to harm civilians or commit war crimes during the last phase of the conflict or at any time,” he remarked adding that if accidents or oversights happened despite these orders then they will be included in the report and would be addressed by the government.
“However we do not want organisations that are not assisting the development of this country and are not interested in its future to dictate to us on what is proper. The very fact that they jointly issued a press release on the same day with almost the same wording shows that there is a combined effort to undermine Sri Lanka.”
Rambukwella stressed that representations made by citizens who have witnessed attacks on civilians would be included in the LLRC and that they would be dealt with appropriately by the government.
Government ‘begins probe’ on torture photos
Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratna says that the government has launched a probe on recently emerged photographs that are said to show a massacre of Tamils during the country’s civil war.
Some of the pictures apparently show the bloodstained bodies of bound and blindfolded young people.
“We have already appointed a team to look into the matter,” said Jayaratna.
The prime minister told the BBC Sinhala service that the government has received reliable information that members of the Tamil Diaspora who benefited from the Tamil Tigers are spreading disinformation to discredit the government.
Global Tamil Forum (GTF), a group which includes former supporters of the separatist insurgents, released the images as the Sri Lankan foreign minister visited London.
Minister G.L. Peiris on Tuesday rejected the photographs saying that they were a bid by rebel sympathisers to tarnish Sri Lanka’s image.
Many of the photos, whose veracity cannot be verified, were too graphic to be published.
UN Panel of Experts calls for submissions
New York: The United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Panel on Sri Lanka has called interested parties to make submissions to the panel or to correspond with the panel.
Responding to an inquiry on the notice Wednesday at the daily press briefing, the UN Secretary-General’s Acting Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said the panel has circulated a notice advising that it has commenced its work and providing an address where interested organisations, academic institutions or individuals can make written submissions or otherwise correspond with the panel.
When asked about the notice, the Spokesperson said it is within the Panel’s mandate to develop its own working modalities including as to whether to be open to input from other institutions or individuals.
The Spokesperson said the four-month deadline for the panel to submit the report would be the middle of January next year.
The Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka commenced its work officially on 16 September.
Sri Lanka vehemently opposed the appointment of the panel saying that it is unnecessary and unwarranted as the government has already set in motion a mechanism to probe the events took place during a seven-year period prior to the conclusion of the war.