The Government’s resolve to implement the UNHRC resolution is an act of outright treachery practiced against the armed forces and the people of Sri Lanka, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said today.
In a statement on the UNHRC resolution, he said the yahapalana government pledged to implement the entire resolution it co-sponsored in October 2015 and thereby renewed its earlier undertaking to establish a war crimes tribunal with foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators, to remove through an administrative process members of the armed forces suspected of war crimes even if there isn’t enough evidence to take them before a judicial inquiry, to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and to replace it with a law acceptable to Western powers and to permit the war crimes tribunal and other mechanisms set up in Sri Lanka to obtain funds from overseas.
“Though the President and Prime Minister repeatedly say that no foreign judges will be brought to try our armed forces, the pledge given in Geneva last week was exactly the opposite. The most dangerous aspect of the UNHRC resolutions of 2015 and 2017 is that the Sri Lankan government has accepted without any reservations the report of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) of September 2015 which had accused the Sri Lankan government of a whole range of war crimes including indiscriminate killings of non-combatants, torture, rape, illegal detention, abduction and deprivation of humanitarian assistance.
There was no compelling reason for the yahapalana government to have accepted the OHCHR report other than their own inherent anti-national attitude. In 2010, the UN Secretary General commenced an inquiry against Sri Lanka and its report was published in April 2011. My government resolutely refused to accept that report and today, nobody even remembers that such a document existed.
The UN Secretary General can appoint a panel of experts to advise him on a country only on the instructions of the UN Security Council. Yet, under pressure from the Obama administration, Ban Ki Moon appointed a panel of experts to advice him about Sri Lanka without the sanction of the Security Council thus going against the practices in the UN that had evolved over seven decades.
The investigation against Sri Lanka by the OHCHR which began in 2014 had similar issues of legitimacy. When the UNHRC appoints a Commission of Inquiry to go into the situation in a country, the members of the commission are appointed by the President of the UNHRC who is the ambassador of a member nation. But in the case of Sri Lanka the inquiry panel was appointed by the UN Human Rights Commissioner - a second tier UN official, not by the President of the UNHRC,” he said.