Sri Lankan war crimes issue to come up at UNHRC on Monday

UN (OHCHR)The alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka’s final assault on the LTTE will come up once again in Geneva on Monday at the UNHRC, with the US set to bring a resolution supporting a domestic investigation unlike previous ones in which it insisted on an international probe.

The draft has been sponsored by the US and other core group of countries called ‘Human Rights in Sri Lanka, with focus on government efforts to provide reconciliation and accountability and based on findings of OHCHR report’.

“The High Commissioner (for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussain) will present the findings of his office on the allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka to the Council,” Ambassador Joachim Ruecker, the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), told PTI.

The presentation of the report was deferred until this month by the UNHRC as a goodwill gesture towards the government of Maithripala Sirisena who succeeded Mahinda Rajapaksa as the President of Sri Lanka in January.

The Rajapaksa administration resisted the investigation dubbing it an impingement on the country’s sovereignty.

The Sirisena government, however, engaged the UN and the larger international community in contrast to the Rajapaksa administration and sought to address some of the concerns of the Tamil minority.

The OHCHR report was handed over to Colombo on Friday night. The Lankan government has five days to make its response in writing.

“This will be a very interesting session, once again,” Ruecker said, commenting on the three-week long regular session of the UNHRC.

“Country-specifically we will talk of Democratic Republic of Congo, we will speak about Sri Lanka, we will speak about Ukraine and Syria, once again,” said Ruecker, a veteran German diplomat who was appointed as UNHRC President in January.

Of particular significance to India will be the issue of Sri Lanka.

While India had supported US-sponsored resolutions on Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013, it abstained from voting in 2014 stating that it is “India’s firm belief that adopting an intrusive approach that undermines national sovereignty and institutions is counter-productive.”

The issue would be a tricky terrain for India as DMK chief M Karunanidhi has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to back the US-sponsored resolution which has reportedly been watered-down seeking a domestic inquiry on war crimes.

Apart from the Lankan issue, the session will also see draft resolutions on Syria, Yemen, Sudan, death penalty, indigenous peoples, rights of migrants, right to peace, countering violent extremism, among others.  (PTI)

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