Domestic investigations, even with external supervision, will not work: NESoHR

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 March 2015, 23:18 GMT]
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s statement on Monday to the High Level Segment of the 28th UN Human Rights Council Session at Geneva, where he stated that “the content of the Report of OHCHR Investigation too can be taken into account by domestic investigative and judicial mechanisms,” is a point of contention said North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR) in a statement issued on Tuesday. None of the recommendations of the internal Commissions of Inquiry held in Sri Lanka has been implemented, the NESoHR said adding that even the international monitors, as in the case of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), had to withdraw from the proceedings in the past. Mr Samaraweera was touching upon absurdity when he claimed that the civil war in the island had to be brought to an end to restore human rights, the statement further said.

“When it was nothing but ‘State terrorism’ that was prevalent against the Tamil youth throughout and against Sinhala youth during certain periods, it is ridiculous that the Minister should state that the end of ‘terrorism’ in May 2009 during the previous administration though without cost, was a necessity without which the restoration of human rights and equitable and sustainable development of the nation could not be achieved,” the statement by the NESoHR said.

Full text of the statement by the NESoHR follows:

Foreign Minister for Sri Lanka, Mangala Samaraweera’s assertion at the current sessions of United Nations Human Rights Council high segment sittings that the Sri Lanka’s civil war had to be brought to an end to restore human rights is touching upon absurdity.

It is well known that successive genocidal Sri Lanka governments were ruling the country for more than three decades under the two draconian laws namely Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency Regulations (EMR).

Emergency Regulations have to be placed before the Parliament every 30 days and extended by a majority of votes. Although it was allowed to lapse during the tail end of the last government many of its sections were incorporated into the existing PTA by amendment.

In re, Nallaratnam Singarasa, many years ago the Human Rights Committee in its view directed the Sri Lanka government to either repeal PTA or to amend the offending sections not in conformity with the International criminal law standards and norms. However six years after Mullivaikal it remains in force.

Any criminal law practitioner in Sri Lanka especially in the Northeast knew how an alleged suspect in a case under PTA or EMR was tortured to obtain a so called ‘confession’. This was due to the fact that under the above draconian laws confession was allowed in evidence against the accused whereas it was not allowed under the normal laws of the country.

When it was nothing but ‘State terrorism’ that was prevalent against the Tamil youth throughout and against Sinhala youth during certain periods, it is ridiculous that the Minister should state that the end of terrorism in May 2009 during the previous administration though without cost, was a necessity without which the restoration of human rights and equitable and sustainable development of the nation could not be achieved.

Further, few days before the ‘Independence Day’ celebrations on February 4, Public Security Ordinance Article 12 was signed by the new President and gazetted giving Police powers to Army, Navy and Air force.

The statement that the content of the Report of OHCHR Investigation too can be taken into account by domestic investigative and judicial mechanisms which they were in the process of setting up is a point of contention.

We are only well aware of the local mechanisms set up so far. One only has to take a look at the report titled ‘On Internal Commissions of Inquiry 1963-2002, edited by Kishali Pinto Jayawardene and published by Law and Society Trust in September 2010.

None of the recommendations of the Internal Commissions of Inquiry held in Sri Lanka has been implemented. An Independent Panel of Eminent persons lead by Justice Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India declared an internal Commission of Inquiry held into 17 most grave Human Riots violations including the murder of 17 Tamil speaking humanitarian workers of the French INGO, ACF at Muthur in Trincomalee District and five innocent Tamil students in Trincomalee beach as not independent and withdrew from the proceedings.

That being the case how could one expect justice through a local mechanism when the present President, Maithripala Srisena was the Deputy Minister of Defence in the former regime and was the acting minister of Defence during the last days of the war in May 2009?

NESoHR Team
March 3,2015.


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