A network of Tamil Civil Society activists from Sri Lanka’s war-ravaged North-East on Tuesday vehemently condemned the alleged moves by the UN to help Colombo to set up a domestic accountability mechanism, completely ignoring the survivors of the brutal war.
“We condemn and reject these moves hatched in secrecy to establish a domestic mechanism solely negotiated between the Government of Sri Lanka and the UN,” the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) said on Tuesday.
The TCSF statement has come a day after the Channel 4 News, based on a leaked UN document, exposed a UN initiated plan to establish a domestic mechanism for accountability in Sri Lanka.
Channel 4 News in a report said on Tuesday that it has been supplied with the leaked document which critics claim could pre-empt and undermine September’s Human Rights Council discussion on a UN’s long-awaited investigation into crimes committed at the end of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war.
The September meeting is about the international investigation – announced by the Human Rights Council in March 2014 at the behest of world leaders including David Cameron – into alleged war crimes and human rights abuses.
The leaked UN document has raised widespread concerns over the prospects for genuine justice for the Sri Lankan victims of alleged war crimes as for as it backs a domestic mechanism to be run by the Government of Sri Lanka with mere ‘technical support’ from the UN.
“The UN clearly does not see the Tamil people as being partners in the process towards accountability in Sri Lanka, despite the fact the High Commissioner has repeatedly insisted on consultation with victims,” Co-Spokespersons of the TCSF, Kumaravadivel Guruparan and Elil Rajan have said in the statement.
“TCSF has consistently maintained that establishing a credible domestic mechanism in Sri Lanka would be impossible. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, if he is to maintain the dignity of his office, cannot be silent anymore. He must respond immediately,” they said.
The key Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which seeks to increase its parliamentary membership at the August 17 general election, is yet to react in this regard.
In a joint letter addressed to the UN Human Rights Commissioner earlier this month, the TCSF said 15 civil society organizations from the North-East of Sri Lanka raised concerns about the UN in Sri Lanka’s collaboration with the Government of Sri Lanka “to set up a credible domestic mechanism”. It said that these concerns were raised based on a speech delivered by the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka on June 04.
“The speech seems to have been based on the UN Memo now exposed by Channel 4. In our letter we argued that these moves pre-empt the OISL report scheduled for release in September 2015. There has been no response to date to our letter from the UN in Sri Lanka or the High Commissioner’s office, except for an acknowledgement of receipt from the UN Resident Coordinator’s office,” the TCSF statement said.