The three experts on the investigative team in the probe led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the alleged abuses during the final phase of the war have been announced.
Three experts include the former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, former New Zealand's Governor Silvia Cartwright and Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir. They will be appointed to the panel and will be supporting and advising the team that is led by Senior UN Official Sandra Beidas.
The team appointments are now complete and they are scheduled to have their first meeting in mid July.
Speaking on the three experts Ms. Pillay has stated, “I am proud that three such distinguished experts have agreed to assist this important and challenging investigation. Each of them brings not only great experience and expertise, but the highest standards of integrity, independence, impartiality and objectivity to this task.”
Commenting further she has once again encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to cooperate fully with the OHCHR-led investigation. “It will help shed light on the truth, and advance accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” the High Commissioner has stated.
Furthermore she has emphasized on the fact that the investigation will continue undeterred even if such cooperation was not forthcoming.
Mr. Ahtisaari, a well reputed name in the arena of international peace work is the former President of Finland and is a Nobel Prize Laureate who has also served as a UN diplomat and a mediator.
Ms. Caartwright’s name however does not come as a surprise since her name was reported in media since several weeks ago as one of the experts who will be appointed in the OHCHR team in the probe on Sri Lanka. She is the former Governor-General and High Court Judge of New-Zealand. She has also served as the judge of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts in Cambodia as well as former member of the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
Ms. Jahangir is the former President of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association and Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission. She visited Sri Lanka in 2005 as UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
The three experts are due to play a supportive and advisory role, providing advice and guidance as well as independent verification throughout the investigation that will be led by senior UN official Sandra Beidas who has been appointed as the Coordinator of the OHCHR investigation team. The investigation team will consist of 12 staff to which includes investigators, forensics experts, a gender specialist, a legal analyst and various other staff with specialized skills. It will be operational for a period of 10 months and are due to convene their first meeting in Geneva in mid-July.
At the 25th UNHRC sessions in March, resolution 25/1 led by the US entitled ‘Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ was adopted with 23 countries voting in favour. The resolution mandated the OHCHR to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) which examined the final years of the armed conflict.
The Council requested the OHCHR to ‘establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations, and of the crimes perpetrated, with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability’ underpinned by the assistance of relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders.
The resolution has requested the Office to present an oral update to the UNHRC at its 27th session in September and produce a comprehensive report at its 28th session in March 2015. (Lakna Paranamanna)