Ganesan assails Sri Lanka's rights record

[TamilNet, Saturday, 15 March 2008, 14:08 GMT]
Mano Ganesan, Leader of Western People’s Front and Convener of Civil Monitoring Commission (CMC), in a meeting with visiting officials of the European Union, pointing to the culture of impunity prevailing in Sri Lanka, rejected Colombo's proposal to appoint a SAARC commission to monitor rights in Sri Lanka as a "ploy to buy time," and flayed Judge Tilakaratne's investigation into disappearances as an exercise to "deceive the nation and the international community." Judge Tilakaratne had earlier commented that most people listed as disappeared and abducted have either "returned home or gone abroad," the press release issued by Ganeson Saturday said.

Full text of the press release follows:

Mano Ganesan
Discussions centered on the prevailing political and human rights conditions in the country. CMC Convener Mano Ganesan explained to the officials that now the government is coming out with proposals to establish a parliamentary select committee on Human Rights and a new IIGEP with eminent persons drawn from SAARC countries. This is in view of the withdrawal of the IIGEP and the increasing concern on the deplorable human rights conditions in the country and subsequent demand for meaningful international participation in monitoring human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

We reject the new government proposals as another set of ploy to buy time. We are compelled to take this stand as we have gone through many committees and commissions and many state agencies established by this government in the name combating human rights violations. The long list begins with the formal National Human Rights Commission, the Mahanama Tilakaratne Commission, the Special Presidential Commission, the IIGEP and a government Ministerial committee. In addition there are the special police units and the Ministry for human rights. None of these have helped to improve the human rights conditions in this country.

Retired Judge Mahanama Tilakaratne is supposed to have handed over his report to the government. But it has not been made public despite our repeated demands to do so. We have noted a tone of deliberate attempt in the comments made by Mahanama Tilakaratne. He puts the domestic disappearances and the systematic enforced disappearances together and narrates the story of ‘missing people returning home and going abroad’. This is to deceive the nation and the international community.

The most worrying factor is the enormous level of the culture of impunity prevailing in this country. This government is yet to come out with name of one single person who is arrested, indicted, charge sheeted and sentenced in view of the large number of incidents of abuses we are witnessing on a daily basis.

Talking of a new South Asia (SAARC) based IIGEP is pathetic because the withdrawing IIGEP is headed by respectable Indian retired judge Mr. Bhagawati. There was another eminent member from Bangladesh too. It appears that human rights minister Mahinda Samarasinghe is not accustomed to the ground situation and lost directions in this all important human issue.

The credible steps that the government could take at this juncture begin with the establishment of the constitutional commission. The opposition parties and the OPA are for this move. This will pave way for the independent commissions. It will be a step in the right path. But the victims of the human rights abuses will not be satisfied with this move alone. It is an urgent immediate necessity that the office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner in Sri Lanka is strengthened with field presence covering both territories controlled by GoSL and LTTE.

The issue of the personal security Ganesan was also one of other subjects discussed at the meeting.

Ms. Campbell is the head of the EC’s unit overlooks Sri Lanka and other south Asian countries except India. Andrea Nicolaj is in-charge of the relations with Sri Lanka. Both represented the External Relations Directorate-General of the European Commission.



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