Sri Lanka backtracking on commitment

Gajan PonnambThe leader of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam speaking at the UNHRC said that “Despite whatever assurances are given to this council with regards to foreign participation, it should be clearly understood that Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister is being contradicted by none other than persons of far more political authority.

In his speech at the UNHCR Ponnambalam said: On the oral update on Sri Lanka, we welcome the High Commissioner’s statement that he remains convinced that international participation in the accountability mechanisms would be a necessary guarantee for the independence and impartiality of the process as Sri Lanka’s judicial institutions lack credibility. In fact it is precisely for this reason that the Tamil people, who are the overwhelming victims of the mass crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state, have consistently insisted on the need for an International Accountability Mechanism as opposed to domestic ownership of such a mechanism.

Nonetheless, unfortunately this council by way of resolution 30/1 called for the setting up of a mere domestic mechanism whilst encouraging the participation of Commonwealth and foreign judges, prosecutors, investigators and lawyers. Despite this tremendous concession granted to the Sri Lankan government by this Council, the government has been stridently backtracking on this most fundamental matter for a credible accountability process.

Despite whatever assurances are given by Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister to this Council with regards foreign participation, it should be clearly understood that he is being vehemently contradicted by none other than persons of far more political authority, namely the President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, who have repeatedly assured the Sinhalese people, who form their electoral vote bank, that they will never allow any foreign participation. This fact is strongly indicative of the lack of political will on this matter.

If there is one thing that consecutive Sri Lankan governments have been consistent about, it is the almost complete impunity with regards the crimes committed against the Tamil people. When the allegation that the Tamil people make is one of Genocide that has been committed against them, we strongly urge that member States take steps to ensure against any default on this most fundamental commitment regarding foreign participation.

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