The Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) said the delay in the publishing of the findings of the UN inquiry into mass atrocities against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka could only be justified if the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights collected evidence directly from victims on the ground and ensured that Sri Lanka ratified the Rome Statute in order for it to be investigated by the International Criminal Court.
“From the Tamil people’s view, if this delay is truly to ensure a comprehensive inquiry to the victims, and not just for a regime change agenda, then we have certain demands,” TNPF president, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam told a press conference on 17 February 2015.
“Firstly, as we all now, the former government did not allow the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit and conduct a proper inquiry. This needs to happen. As far as we are concerned the majority of people who were affected are living on this soil, not just in the diaspora. A significant number of testimonies from those living here must be recorded,” he said.
Highlighting the TNPF’s efforts to record witness testimonies last year, Mr Ponnambalam said “the people gave their testimonies in fear. To be honest, there were not as many testimonies given as we had expected.”
“Therefore, if the report is being delayed in order to conduct a comprehensive inquiry, then certainly the OISL team should have got assurances from the Sri Lankan government that they can come here directly and speak to the people directly.”
“Secondly, even the Northern Provincial Council has resolved that what took place is a genocide,” Mr Ponnambalam said, adding that the was formed within the constrains of the 13th Amendment by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), and one of the principle reasons for himself and party members leaving the TNA was its leadership’s refusal to state what happened was a genocide.
“In international law genocide is a most heinous crime. When genocide has taken place, it is generally accepted that there can be no amnesty. However, what the Sri Lankan government is saying is that no such crimes took place.”
“If the delay is going to be justified, this Sri Lankan government must be made to ratify the Rome Statute, allowing it to be investigated by the International Criminal Court,” he added.