Introductory remarks by Minister Samarasinghe:
National human rights plan of action has been finalised and approved by the cabinet. It will be ready by end of this week. We will start the implementation of the HR action plan. Today High commissioner said that she has come to know that president has allowed some Emergency regulations to lapse. We are concerned that she has not been able to welcome that ER has been completely repealed. The statement is not correct and we will explain it to you.
United Nations Human Rights Council, 18th session
12 September 2011 / Palais des Nations, Geneva
Chaired by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe
Mohan Peiris, senior adviser to the cabinet of ministers on legal affairs :
On Emergency Regulations (ER): All the ER regulation are lapsed. Some temporary regulation is being introduced not under ER but under PTA.The temporary regulations are for: to keep the LTTE suspects in detention and rehabilitate them; to proscribe the LTTE; to proscribe the TRO. Detainees and remandies will not be released with lapse of ER.
Additional powers given to police and armed forces are no longer there
which, means that we want to go back to good old days where normal laws will prevail.
Section 4 of Public Security Act: will prevail for the treatment of detainees at the time when they were detained.
Section 12, under which President will call upon armed forces when inefficiency of whole security set up. That is a supplementary power for the president. It will be used with great restrain and checks and balances in place, has nothing to do with FR.
Simply ER is dead.
Need public support from all corners of the country to accept position that brings SL back to normal. We are free form the shatters of the emergency regulations. now we need to practice our legal system as we did 30 years ago.
Parts of the documentary Lies agreed upon shown approx. 17 min of the full film of 60 min. DVDs distributed.
Q& A session:
Kirubhakaran, Tamil Centre for Human Rights :
People interviewed in the film are in detention – so how they can be independent?
There are many evidence you have not shown here.
Presently there is a grease-men in Jaffna, my question is that when can you consider these evidence when they are not independent and under duress?
This film is against LTTE, not against channel 4 film, we have seen these incidents once and again in this building, lets be frank, we can see a contradiction between this film and channel 4 film, – why GoSL does not agree to an international investigation to prove you are genuine and clear your self?
Minister Samarasinghe: Every person has right to opinion, we have our own opinions like you, best person to answer you question on Jaffna is a Tamil person like you, GA Jaffna
Imelda Sukumar, district secretary, Jaffna: appointed as GA in Jaffna in July 2011; since then resettled 25.000 people in high security zone; resettlement programme is still under way in HSZs; development work is going speedily. Severe problem is the h land mines in these areas. Road networks under in progress; water supply scheme is already commenced. Law & order in place, you are telling about grease man it is the problem of robberies ..police has taken severe action situation is under control.
Mohan Piries: dawn of peace brings normal criminal activities; but no more high security zones in SL. HSZ emergency regulation lapsed.
H.L. D. Mahindapala, former editor, Ceylon Observer, resident of Australia
I am please that I come all the way from Australia to see the video; This particular video clearly indicates that channel 4 or INGOs do not have monopoly of truth; there are two sides to the truth. you must view entire discourse form both sides.
I am impressed by the credible evidence by visible faces. TNA is against GoSL so it is the more stunning that the TNA MP interviewed also said that the atrocities did not take place.
AI report as presented last week on LLRC mentioned that mandate of LLRC is inadequate – I agree to this and ask Attorney General, why the LLRC has such limited mandate? Two governments fought against Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka. First it was the Indian government. LLRC does not cover the IPKF, the Indian intervention. Tamil people realised that they were raped, assassinated, and they were deprived of fundamental freedoms by IPKF. – But why was the mandate of LLRC not extended to cover also IPKF?
Minister Samarasinghe: I want to say categorically that IPKF came upon invitation form GoSL to the country and GoSL agrees with what they have done because it was needed to restore law and order. And the story ends there.
Mohan Piries: Mandate of LLRC chosen because terminal date of cessation of conflict because convenient period to deal with. Deliberately chosen this period because humanely impossible to catch up with other period; to keep period convenient, a period which is fresh in mind. Mandate was structured around restorative justice with a strong element of accountability.
Fr Emmanuel, President GTF:
Video defends an indefensible government;
Numbers of those supposed to be free are still under trees and have no settlements. Names of ex-combatants not made public, even not ICRC.
Re Emergency Regulations security related package – ER are dead but most of it has been absorbed in PTA, actual situation on ground has not change, esp in regards to military powers; military powers are ruling; nothing can be done without the agreement of military forces in Jaffna; so they have military powers, not curtailed; PTA has come out with stronger measures where military can have impunity and powers to do so many things.
Re situation in Jaffna: doesn’t accept channel 4 and your video as true: Nobody monopolizes the truth, it has to be investigated and searched. but one party is objecting international investigation of the panel report, why is that? – Concerns about the truth, peace and reconciliation, should start with justice and peace. International open and independent investigation needed to find truth and the best option for us. India promised to build 50,000 houses but not even 1,000 houses have been built.
Minister Samarasinghe: we will share with you and others the progress in implementation of the recommendation of the plan of action and report. We would like to see sustainable peace in SL plus comprehensive reconciliation.
We are very grateful to Indian government to give us the 50.000 houses for N&E, they gave us more funds than any other country for constructions: construction of 1000 houses have started and India facilitates that.
Mohan Piries: We had to make a provision in PTA to promulgate to rehabilitate surrenders, complete persecution and bring all to an end. We have been colonised by no less than three nations, do we want to get back to those times? Surely not. Father you and I can get together to get out of this mess. I am ready to join hands with you, that is the question I would like to ask?
Mohamed Nasheed – President of the Maldives:
I was grown up in Sri Lanka, first elected President of Maldives; grown up with different ethnic groups, share some sentiments. I want to see amicable solution for both Tamils and Sinhalese, and Christians and Moslem, want a viable solution. Recently had number conversation with president Rajapakse, especially in terms of how to move forward. War is bad and we do bad things in war. How do we find a future for the region? I am certain we need to find an amicable solution in Sri Lanka. I do not have a specific way but I understand from the Sinhalese, Tamils and the President that they all want a solution in Sri Lanka. If we are to dig the past, it will be difficult to go forward. But we need to recognise that reconciliation has to happen and we need to find the truth. Lots of Sri Lankans who are very wounded these last years, but Sinhalese and Tamils want to find a way forward.
We are creating a situation that Sri Lanka increasingly marginalised in international community, Sri Lanka has a long history of stable democracy and there are number of civil society groups and HR institutions with capacity to find a way forward; we hope that we find solutions for the future without any further antagonisms. I am willing to believe that Sri Lankan leadership; both Sinhalese and Tamils have the capacity and want to find peace.
Documentary helps us to understand and have a clear picture of reconciliation process, in particular after the defamation of UN SG report and the comments by the OHCHR. This kind of initiative helps a lot to understand, we invite you to continue to organise such meetings and support you. We appreciate to receive further information on concrete measures taken as part of the reconciliation process.
It would be good to have this kind of discussion take place in HRC where there is web-cast. Few questions:
National HR plan of action – when is the plan publicly available and where?
Regulations under PTA – are they all published and where can we find them?
LLRC report – will be the report published in November this year as told to the HRC?
LLRC report – will be the report published in November this year as told to the HRC?
Documentary interesting – shows misinformation – accidentally or intentionally;
Channel 4 film and the issue of statistics – GoSL position that 70000 people werr trapped only in Vanni, and it shows how misinformation is critical factor. It also shows that there is a need for independent inquiry.
The Commission report of 2006 investigation in to number of HR violations has never been published, many reports never been implemented. This too points to the need to have an independent inquiry – and it can only come from international inquiry.
AI concerned about LLRC mandate, but not about time frame, because LLRC was never conceived as accountability mechanism but now it is turned into an accountability mechanism.
Minister Samarasinghe: National HR action plan will be available on website, launched end of this week.
Mohan Piries :
Re ER- I have all the gazette announcements here, should be on government website and download from there.
Re LLRC: we are subject of human failure and it is unfair to be judgemental. What makes you feel that you are in a position to pronounce somebody’s independence? Aren’t you patient enough to wait and see? Are you to say that you are infallible? Is AI setting standards for the world?
We have 2500 years of history and culture – so we are asking you to be fair to give Sinhalese and Tamils a chance to reconcile. I don think we really need your assistance. Please wait for the LLRC to tell us what they found.
Re independence: You continue the argument of independence – we are only a tiny little piece of land hopping around the planet – touch your heart and tell us whether you have been independent in things you are doing?
Pleased to attend this event, very useful exercise to provide clarifications and to provide opportunity for a frank and open dialogue. We appreciate the documentary you have shown us, if not for any other reasons than to see that everything has a context and a background and everything has to be placed in a context. We appreciate the amount information which has been provided to us and hope to have further meetings of this sort.
President Nasheed of Maldives:
I wish for Amnesty International and Mohan Peiris can find better words. I hope it will give us good lessons. I myself in my life gone through challenging times and for me to go back to them, does not necessarily heal what has happened but I like to go forward. A lot of wrong has been done but would rather than dwelling in the past to go forward. Reconciliations are very necessary. So I understand the Attorney General’s sentiments and Amnesty’s hard work for human rights and I hope that you can also reconcile. I have been a prisoner of conscience of Amnesty International in 1994 and it was a SL Moslem lawyer who was the representative of Amnesty at that time and represented me. I hope that there will be reconciliation between Amnesty International and Sri Lanka.
Minister Samarasinghe: Cup of tea would be the best for the two of them.
We would like to see the discussions in the formal setting at the Council;
Re Panel Report:
We are very much concerned about the panel report recommendations. There are credible allegations of major HR violations form both sides that need to be addressed; interested to know what concrete measures will be taken in re accountability; EU strongly encourage Sri Lanka to engage with UN SG on the contents of the report.
Interested in the establishment of commission; encourage finalising the report and presenting to the HRC in an interactive session at the earliest possible HRC session. When can we expect the report to be finished and released?
Re visit of UN HR High commissioner to SL:
In the briefings last June Sri Lanka told that they have extended an invitation to High Commissioner: When will the High Commissioner be received in country and what is the state of preparation?
Re National HR Plan of action:
Would like to see more information on this, EU haven’t see the last version?
Would encourage to cooperate with HRC, esp the Special Raporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary the Working group on disappearances.
Minister Samarasinghe: We have the UPR in October 2012, excellent opportunity to have an interactive dialogue on SL and can report back at UPR about implementation stage.
Mohan Piries: Please wait for LLRC to get more recommendations. LLRC interim recommendations have been substantially addressed.
High Commissioner still has to give us dates for her visit. As to her view in previous discussions she is unable to visit SL this year but only next year – and she is to look into the timings in order to find a mutually convenient time.
China also has a colonised history. As you said Sri Lanka is a country which suffered 500 years of colonisation, we understand that sensitivity to external interferences. We also faced that. And there will be always someone who continues to interfere. But we commend GoSL efforts.documentary shows that need more time and space to complete the domestic process; we see this as a very conducive way for a interactive dialogue. We thank you for setting good example for Human Rights Council. We hope that SL will enjoy peace and prosperity forever.
USA Supports full, credible, independent investigation into violations of human rights and international law; there must be accountability for any violations. While domestic authorities are primarily responsible to hold accountability for those violations, an international investigation can be appropriate if state cannot fulfil these obligations. We hope that SL can do themselves, but if not, there will be growing pressure to examine this.
Thank you for your new data and information on reconciliation and resettlement; encourage continuing to take such measures and such initiatives.
Thank you President of Maldives for your guidance and thoughts..
International investigation should take place and LLRC could continue its work at the same time; international investigation is wanted because many people in government are potential targets of investigation, so it is impossible to have such investigation domestically, especially also in light of additional evidence you provided today.
We are concerned that the ER are with replaced with other set of regulations. But actual civil liberties of people in Sri Lanka have not changed; people are detained without due process, their lives will not changed.
Regarding the colonisation we would argue that colonisation is an ongoing process and problem in SL and not gone away with 1948, I am referring to the large presence of SL military in villages in remote areas in North and East and many incidences have been reported. This is a internal colonisation.
Minister Samarasinghe: thank you Mr. Anandasangaree, come and visit Jaffna and without staying in Canada.
Mohan Piries :
We do think that any investigation must be transparent, credible and should have democratic mechanisms. But the this has been approached is a telling us what to do, I do not think that such ways find a legitimacy in contemporary times. That is perhaps not something what genuine friends will tell us. Work with us and in partnership with us, build the capacity in us, we are not adverse to that but we are certainly adverse to be threatened to submission. give any support to us to ensure that local mechanism will work. I think that it is time that international community stop wailed threats which don’t find in today’s world.
The new regulations are a simple piece of regime merely to hold in place of those who are currently in detention and legal custody; sooner or later this process will come to an end and regulations will come to an end as well.
May be Mr. Anandasangaree you should come in front of the LLRC to tell what you have to say but if you stay away and continue to make complaints here, the complaints do not meet all the objects. So do come and join in the process.
Re Darusman report:
The report is simply a private consultation which the SG had to advise himself on matters of what is going on in SL. It is not a resolution of member states but a private consultation to advice the SG. The panel simply collected material which was hearsay, unconfirmed, and never had efficacy of law – so it was not an investigation. Darusman said we cannot vouch for the material. Mind you that we do not say there is nothing in the report and the UNSG and GoSL agreed on 27 Feb whatever concerns humanitarian law will be taken up by the LLRC. This was acceptable for both. The Darusman report is only a collection hearsay material, unverified, unconfirmed. A notice was issued to witnesses to present themselves to the LLRC, but none of the witnesses testified to LLRC. So this must be born in my mind.
Re external interference:
Everybody outside SL has the monopoly on other countries but they never look at possibility of what they themselves are doing. If they have a template on accountability and transparency, then put it out. But there is no such example as of yet, Some are refusing to recognise that every sovereign country has ability and obligation and mechanism to handle their own citizen. It is basically an internal problem; but they believe to know what is best to the country and they know what to do and they ask for a fishing expedition: For example AI’s mandate cannot put out statements unless they have done their own investigation but did they do that? They cannot vouch what they have put out.
Notes taken by MT for Sri Lanka Brief
For the GoSL report :Sri Lanka Side Event during 18th Session ofthe Human Rights Council