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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Lanka preserved its sovereignty by rejecting proposal for OHCHR country office: PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

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Sri Lanka’s non-compliance later had forced the UN rights body resolutions.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that Sri Lanka preserved its sovereignty by not agreeing to set up an office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the country even as main Tamil party TNA called for allowing foreign judges and prosecutors to probe the alleged war crimes.

“We told that an office was not required, the High Commissioner is welcome to visit the country if she so wished. We have preserved Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and the world has come to accept it,” Wickremesinghe said at a public gathering on Friday.

The Tamil and international rights groups had demanded that UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s office be set up here in order to keep monitoring Sri Lanka’s human rights accountability process in terms of the UN rights resolutions adopted since 2012.

They cited Sri Lanka’s snail paced action and its lack of political will to deliver justice to the victims of three-decade long civil war with the LTTE.

Wickremesinghe said former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and the former UN chief Ban ki Moon in May 2009 had agreed to subject Sri Lanka to an accountability process for violation of international humanitarian law .

Sri Lanka’s non-compliance later had forced the UN rights body resolutions.

The prime minister said that no soldier will be taken before any court for trial outside. “We will take action against anyone breaking the law,” he said.

On Thursday, the UN Human Rights Council gave Colombo two more years to set up a credible investigation into the country’s brutal civil war and fulfil its commitments in the 2015 resolution.

The 2015 resolution had called for an international investigation in a hybrid court on alleged human rights violations blamed on both the government troops and the LTTE during the final phase of the conflict which ended in 2009 with the killing of rebel Tamil Tiger chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Thilak Marapana told the UNHRC in Geneva on Thursday that the island’s constitution does not permit foreign judges to function in the country.

Marapana said Sri Lanka should be encouraged to and assisted in finding innovative local mechanism with international best practices.

Tamil and rights groups have called for establishing an office of the UN rights commissioner locally to monitor Sri Lanka’s implementation process.

Marapana said there was no justification for setting up of such an office as Sri Lanka had already taken many measures for transitional justice.

The main Tamil party in parliament debunked Marapana’s assertion and said they would press for an international tribunal — even taking the issue to the international criminal court.

They said that Tamils cannot trust the Sri Lankan state to deliver justice when they are a party to the conflict.

The Hindu

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