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Sri Lanka: Paranagama Defends Custer Bombs, Mangala Ready to Investigate

While chairman of the Missing Persons Commission, Maxwell Paranagama has indirectly depended the use if cluster bombs by Sri Lanka military during the war with LTTE  Foreign Minster Managala Samaraweera has castigated him saying he should not have commented in the issue at all.

Mangala accuses Paranagama of trying to be too smart

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera today accused the chairman of the Missing Persons Commission, Maxwell Paranagama of trying to be too smart by making a public statement on the alleged use of cluster bombs during the war.

He said he was disappointed that a person in the calibre of Maxwell Paranagama made such a statement and added that such a statement will not help the reconciliation process.

Paranagama had said in a statement this week that if the army used cluster bombs before 2010 it was not illegal.

He noted that the Cluster Munitions Convention (CMC) banning the use of such weapons was not in force at the time of the conflict and only became operational on 1st August 2010.

“Therefore, if there had been a need for the Sri Lankan Army to use cluster munitions because of military necessity, it was not illegal at the time,” he had said.

Samaraweera however said Paranagama’s comment was “panditha katha” (trying to be too smart) and insisted he should not have commented at all on the subject.

The Foreign Minister said the Government is prepared to investigate if cluster bombs were used and without investigating nothing can be said. (Colombo Gazette)

Use of cluster ammo not banned during war – Former Judge Maxwell Paranagama: ‘No basis for fresh inquiry’; US recommended CBUs to SLAF’

The presidential commission to investigate complaints regarding missing persons and other alleged wartime atrocities has strongly challenged Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights call for a fresh inquiry in respect of the use of cluster ammunition during eelam war IV.

Chairman of the Commission retired High Court judge Maxwell Paranagama stresses that there is no basis for UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein call for inquiry.

Paranagama was responding to UNHRC declaration: “In light of recent reports on new evidence that has emerged on the use of cluster munitions towards the end of the conflict, following similar allegations in the OHCHR investigation report, the High Commissioner calls for an independent and impartial investigation to be carried out.”

Responding to a query by The Island, Paranagama said that the commission in its second mandate report had dealt with the alleged use of cluster ammunition. Having examined all available evidence, it had concluded that such ammunition hadn’t been used by the military during the offensive, Paranagama said.

The military brought the entire Vanni region under its control during the third week of May, 2009.

Asked whether he had been informed of Sri Lanka receiving specific instructions from the US to acquire cluster ammunition for the SLAF, Paranagama stressed that as the Cluster Munitions Convention (CMC) had come into operation on August 1, 2010, the UNHRC couldn’t find fault with the then administration even if such ammunition had been used. Had a need arisen for using cluster ammunition, the Sri Lankan military could have done so without violating international laws, Paranagama said.

The US made the recommendation in the wake of the Oslo arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) between the then Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe and LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in Feb. 2002. It was among a series of recommendations made to the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force to strengthen their capabilities during the CFA. The US recommended that MiG 27 be armed with Cluster Bomb Units (CBUs).

Paranagama said that the UNHRC couldn’t have been unaware that the CMC came into being over one year after the conclusion of the war in Sri Lanka.

The US, Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are not among the signatories to the CMC.

An attempt was being made to tarnish Sri Lanka’s image on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations, Paranagama alleged.

Responding to another query, Paranagama said that the Second Mandate report which had dealt with the charge relating to use of cluster ammunition was tabled in Parliament last October. “Therefore, all political parties represented in Parliament should be aware of the relevant international law in respect of the use of cluster ammunition.”

Paranagama further said that UNSG Ban ki moon’s Panel of Experts (PoE) in its report released in March, 2011 had accused Sri Lanka of using CBUs without revealing any source.

Paranagama said that he would submit his final report to President Maithripala Sirisena on July 15. With the handing over of the report, investigations undertaken by his Commission would come to an end, Paranagama said. Regretting that the Second Mandate Report hadn’t been submitted to the UNHRC so far, Paranagama said that the inclusion of allegation in respect of the alleged use of cluster ammunition in the latest Geneva report had raised many questions.

According to Paranagama, various interested parties had propagated lies at the UNHRC sessions regarding the use of cluster ammunition in a bid crank up pressure on Sri Lanka. Paranagama pointed out that Sri Lanka had given unrestricted access to international mine clearing organisations to expedite the process.

By Shamindra Ferdnando.
The island


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