President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met with the Ministers of External Affairs and Justice, and the Tri-forces commanders last week to discuss an acceptable format for the proposed domestic mechanism to address accountability issues.
A senior official of the Ministry of External Affairs, describing last week’s discussion as an ‘initiation’ said the high level officials will, through a series of discussions, reach an agreement as to the best mechanism or the mechanisms to be adopted to handle the outstanding issues of accountability, which has seen Sri Lanka hauled before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)Sessions in Geneva since 2012.
The government is expected to shape the domestic apparatus through a process of wider local consultation.
The agreed mechanism is to be communicated to the Council by the government after the report of the Human Rights High Commissioner on Sri Lanka is presented to the UNHRC on September 30 for discussion.
Asked if this mechanism will be outlined in the collaborative resolution by the US and Sri Lanka, the official declined to give a clear answer.
However, the official said, the news reports that the government has shared details of the domestic mechanism with the US, had no basis, deeming it mere speculation.
“What had been agreed with the US is to have a collaborative approach to the resolution that will be adopted at the September session,” the official said.
Earlier, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Tom Malinowsky, who visited Sri Lanka with Assistant Secretary Nisha Biswal, said the resolution will show Sri Lanka the way forward in addressing accountability issues.
Explaining the need for this new resolution at the Council, the officials said, “A resolution has to be adopted because that is the means by which the Council decides on issues,” and added, “Hence, the collaborative resolution, which Sri Lanka will also have its say, will decide as to what action the Council proposes based on the High Commissioner’s report.”
In March 2014, a resolution moved by the US called on the High Commissioner to submit a comprehensive report, in one year, on ‘serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crime’ in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the LLRC. In March 2015, the High Commissioner granted a one-time deferral until September to releasing the report and his observations.
The Sri Lankan Government will receive a copy of the high Commissioner’s report after September 14, for its observations. The US has called an informal meeting on September 17, on the sidelines, to drum up support for the collaborative resolution.
by Manjula Fernando