The Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) has condemned the plans for a domestic accountability mechanism in Sri Lanka, as detailed in a UN memo obtained by Channel 4. In a statement, released on 29 July 2015 by Kumaravadivel Guruparan and Elil Rajanthe the TCSF said they “condemn and reject these moves hatched in secrecy to establish a domestic mechanism solely negotiated between the Government of Sri Lanka and the UN”.
29 July 2015
TCSF statement on the Channel 4 Exposure
The Tamil Civil Society Forum takes serious note of the yesterday’s exposure (28 July 2015) by Channel 4 News regarding a UN initiated plan to establish a domestic mechanism for accountability in Sri Lanka. In a joint letter dated the 3rd of July 2015 signed by 15 civil society organizations from the Tamil majority North-East of Sri Lanka addressed to the UN Human Rights Commissioner we raised concerns about the UN in Sri Lanka’s collaboration with the Government of Sri Lanka to set up a credible domestic mechanism in Sri Lanka. The concerns were raised based on a speech delivered by the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka on 04 June 2015. The speech seems to have been based on the UN Memo now exposed by Channel 4. In our letter we argued that these moves preempt 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. Full text of our letter can be found here: goo.gl/0le1OF
The leaked document by Channel 4 provides for a domestic mechanism to be run by the Government of Sri Lanka with mere ‘technical support’ from the UN. 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 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. 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.
Kumaravadivel Guruparan Elil Rajan
Co-Spokespersons, Tamil Civil Society Forum.
Meanwhile the Tamil National People’s Front of Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam too criticised the UN plan for a purely domestic inquiry.
Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam said “To suggest an internal inquiry, despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting that the Sri Lankan state structure is so biased in its Sinhala Budhhist nationalist leanings, is to make a mockery of natural justice, and that the revelation came at a time when Tamils have been becoming “increasingly cynical about the UNHRC agenda”.
“No one with the true intention of accountability at heart will accept anything short of a referral of Sri Lanka to the ICC or alternatively the setting up of a UN sponsored ad hoc tribunal on Sri Lanka. Accountability on the basis of criminal justice is non-negotiable from a Tamil victim’s point of view,” Mr Ponnambalam further said.