A “friendly” NGO is to watch the interests of the Sri Lankan government at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) mandated international probe into allegations of war crimes against its security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) due to commence in June.
Diplomatic sources told The Sunday Island yesterday that despite the Rajapaksa regime having rejected the recent UNHRC resolution which authorized the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to launch an international investigation into the conduct of the war by Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE, between February 21,2002 to May 19,2009, which was the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report, it would send a representative in the form of a ” sympathetic and friendly NGO” to look after its interests during the inquiry to be held in Geneva.
Asked, whether the NGO was local or foreign, the sources replied it was a “mixture of both” and comprises mainly professionals. “The government is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is faced with a serious dilemma whether it participates in the inquiry or not.
The OHCHR has received over 2,300 complaints. Some Sri Lankan military personnel have also indicated their willingness to testify. Though the Rajapaksa regime has publicly rejected the UNHRC resolution and was putting on a brave face, it knows the dangers that lay ahead. So, it has stumbled on this idea of sending an NGO which is sympathetic and friendly towards it, to Geneva.”
The OHCHR it is learnt would by May 15, appoint the panel tasked with conducting the international probe.
A leading Opposition politician said that the government would be letting down the military, if it failed to be present and counter the accusations that were bound to be levelled by the LTTE, which would be strongly represented at the investigations. “If an official team of lawyers is not sent the OHCHR probe would be over in about two months and its recommendations presented to the International Criminal Court of Justice”, he pointed out.
The UNHRC on March 27,2014 adopted by a vote of 23 in favour, 12 against and 12 abstentions, a US sponsored resolution calling for a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes, by both the Sri Lankan government and LTTE, during the period covered by the LLRC Report and to 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 mandate holders
By Zacki Jabbar