3 December, 2022

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Dimming Prospects Of International Assistance As Confidence In Erodes 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The government is facing the strongest resolution yet by the UN Human Rights Council during its 51st session in Geneva. This will be the 9th resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC since 2009 when the war ended bloodily on the military battlefield in circumstances that generated worldwide attention. On every occasion, successive Sri Lankan governments have strived to ensure that there will be no more resolutions where the country’s human rights record is scrutinized to the detriment of the country’s international reputation. But to no avail. This has been due to the fact that what successive governments have promised has not been delivered by either them or their successor governments.

UNHRC resolution 51/1, which is still in its draft stage, does not seek directly to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka. There is an acknowledgement of the dire economic problems facing the country, and therefore the people. This is accompanied by an appeal to the international community to take cognizance of this and give their support to extricate Sri Lanka from its economic crisis. On the other hand, the underlying theme of the resolution is to seek an end to the impunity that privileges governmental actors who can literally get away with murder and looting as they have done liberally over the past two or more decades. The resolution aims, among other things, to further strengthen the UN human rights monitoring mechanism set up in terms of resolution 46/1 of 2021.

The monitoring mechanism which is most salient feature of draft resolution 51/1, as it was in resolution 46/1, seeks to collect evidence, both past and present, of human rights violations that have eroded the living conditions of the people in whole or in part. Those who have drafted the resolution have not been swayed by the impassioned arguments of government representatives that such an international monitoring mechanism constitutes an erosion of the country’s national sovereignty. To the contrary, they have added new features to the present resolution. Two new areas are to focus upon economic crimes and the recovery of stolen assets and the repression of the protest movement by the use of legal instruments where they should not be used.

Government Responsibility 

The strengthening of the UN monitoring mechanism on human rights violations is accompanied by an offer to provide the evidence so gathered to foreign governments and organisations that contemplate utilizing the legal concept of universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction is a legal principle that allows states or international organizations to claim criminal jurisdiction regardless of where the alleged crime was committed, and regardless of the accused person’s nationality or country of residence. There have been a few cases in which those who supported or acted on behalf of the LTTE have had to face legal procedures in foreign countries on account of what they did in Sri Lanka. So far those who have acted on behalf of the government have not been subjected to such prosecution. But there have been several occasions on which government representatives have been hastily removed from countries due to the possibility of legal charges being framed against them.

The advance draft statement of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner in Geneva gives an indication of the legal and economic sanctions that are possible. It will be difficult for the government to deflect the international pressure by either citing constitutional restrictions or the need to prioritise the revival of the economy. The High Commissioner’s statement recommends that the international community should “(d) Cooperate in investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of international crimes committed by all parties in Sri Lanka through judicial proceedings in national jurisdictions, including under accepted principles of extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction, through relevant international networks and in cooperation with victims and their representatives; (e) Explore further targeted sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans against those credibly alleged to have perpetrated gross international human rights violations or serious humanitarian law violations; (f) Support Sri Lanka in the investigation of economic crimes that impact on human rights and the tracing and recovery of stolen assets.

The draft of resolution 51/1 also brings in the concept of economic crimes despite the government’s objections to it on the grounds that it violates the UN Charter. There are two sets of international human rights covenants. All countries which ae members of the UN, including Sri Lanka, have committed themselves to honouring these two covenants. One is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The other is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These are deemed to be co-equal and inter-connected. Therefore, the principle of universal jurisdiction can be invoked against Sri Lankans who are accused of both war crimes and economic crimes and more generally those who are accused of violating international human rights.

Latest Breach 

The government needs to take responsibility for the unfavourable resolution it now faces. The government has failed to live up to the promises it made at previous sessions of the UNHRC. The current draft resolution contains the substance of the unmet promises of previous resolutions. The practice of promising and not delivering began with the earliest resolutions beginning with the promise made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon that the government “reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s international obligations.” In the first resolution that was passed against the wishes of the government in 2011, the focus was on the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission which had been appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. But these recommendations by a national commission were not implemented by the government. Thus, the promise to have a national investigation or national mechanism seems more a mirage and myth than a genuine statement of national sovereignty

At the last session of the UNHRC in June 2022, the government promised not to use the Prevention of Terrorism Act until that law had been revised to comply with international standards. In the aftermath of the protest movement and to quell it, the government violated this promise by detaining student leaders under the PTA as if they were terrorists. It attempted to justify those arrests on the grounds that houses of government members had been torched and incidents of violence had taken place. Although those student leaders have been incarcerated in conditions tantamount to psychological torture for over a month, the government has yet to bring forward evidence that the student leaders engaged in anything resembling terrorism. They have yet to be charged and are kept in solitary confinement without being brought before the judiciary.

In this context, the passage of yet another resolution that is critical of the government will undermine the government’s prospects for getting the full measure of economic support that the country needs at the present time. If the government opposes the resolution and is unsuccessful in its attempts to defeat it, a message will go to the world that Sri Lanka’s government cannot be trusted to keep its promises. This will undercut the government’s efforts to bring in international economic resources into the country. Foreign investors will not wish to invest their funds and foreign governments will be reluctant to give their taxpayers money to a government that cannot be trusted. The passage of UNHRC resolution 51/1 through a vote will be damaging to the national interest. It would be better if the government were to negotiate a consensus resolution and implement it.

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Latest comments

  • 20
    0

    It is good to see the UNHRC supporting the people of Lanka.
    .
    The sanctions must target those responsible for the mess the country is in.
    .
    I’m rather too tired to say more.

    .

    • 9
      2

      “It is good to see the UNHRC supporting the people of Lanka.”
      Sinhala_Man,
      UNHRC resolutions on Sri Lanka now reached more than 12 years. UNHRC resolutions also one of the factor for the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, both Rajapaksas and Ranils had the opportunities over 12 years to stop UNHRC resolutions but their focus was not the people but only their family and personal dreams. Rajapaksas wants that their family kingdom and the same with the Ranil. When our leaders are not interested in people how can we expect others to support? UNHRC resolutions gives a clear message to Sri Lankans. The economic crisis and Political crisis was created by your own leaders and it is in your hands to identify them and remove them from the power. Will that happen in Sri Lanka?

      • 0
        2

        Dr. JP Euro-American Debt Colonialism is the name of the game.
        IMF, OECD’s Colonial Club de Paris and ISBs are the biggest Economic Criminal network on the planet. They have looted and destroyed numerous countries in the Global South, weaponizing the US dollar and crashing local currencies, and have also weaponized Diasproas and local elites as they did in Colonial times to loot their countries.
        US puppets and citizens, Ranil, Basil and Goat Jarapassa, all play the American game and bow to their White Western Masters.
        IMF is in Lanka to bail out the Vulture Funds, not the Lankan people who are so colonized like the Colombo USAID and Soros funded NGOs like, Law and Society Trust, which pretend to be seeking Debt Justice but actually promote disinformation blaming China for the Lankan Western Debt trap.
        Why did the Aragalaya , masterminded by the CIA, to push the Staged DEFAULT support the IMF (except for Anthare – IUSFA – the only genuine protestors), at the Galle Face post Covid-19 Lockdown beach party Araglaya players and actors Inc ?!

  • 9
    0

    (F) Support SriLanka in the investigation of economic crimes that impact on human rights and the tracing and recovery of stolen assets. Except people who are guilty, will any affected Lankan object to that ??? (E) targeted sanctions including , travel ban and freezing stolen assets, of those individuals credibly alleged of gross human rights violations, is much more plausible to Lankans than targeting country. (one of Aragalaya demand) , Was that the recent case , where the fleeing rat that got caught in the trap, desperately returned home / to the owners. (D) Same as before. Expecting to revive our judiciary and low and odor is as good as reviving bankrupt nation. When those credibly alleged include many of those who represent judiciary and low and order, expecting domestic investigation and prosecution of perpetrators will never happen. Many connived with crooked politicians in denying justice to victims of political murders, Thaj murder, Dr Shafi’s framing, white van, kidnap for ransom, Trinco case, Easter mayhem, Wasantha, Duminda, ask Shani, former CJ. . . . . . Unfortunately that may have to wait for the final conclusion of handing over to International courts / I.C.C.

    • 10
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      JP, Is this a coincidence ?? your colleagues in international free press concluded their inquiry into Lasantha’s murder finding Rajapaksa government GUILTY of murder and violations of human rights.

    • 6
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      Today in Geneva, Prageeth’s wife Sandhya told Lankan judiciary is fully under the control of corrupted politicians. Victims cannot expect any justice from our bankrupt, failed and dysfunctional judiciary. Few sentenced were freed by Pissu Sira and Gotha. Few days before Mahinda was made President Prageeth was kidnapped because he had collected evidence of military using chemical gas / poison during war.

      • 2
        5

        Do you take metaphoric statements literally?

        • 0
          0

          Retired, do you take metaphoric statement literally ?? YES, when it comes to Jaffna University ex council members flip- flop, NOT in case of Sandhya, saying the same for past few years in Geneva and in Lankan courts under oath. Did you take metaphoric statements made by Ganasara in courts threatening Sandhya, literally ? For people who are warming chairs may sound metaphoric but not for real victims. Didn’t we hear minister saying he saw a missing journalist in a foreign country. It’s not Prageeth alone, more than 40 journalist are either murdered or missing in Sham Lanka. I am sure you would have thought the same with Lasantha’s daughter too, but the recent hearings prove otherwise.

  • 6
    0

    Dimming Prospects of International Assistance As Confidence In Erodes

    The eroding aggravated by the Ranil ruling showing with fury of fist for the peaceful protest and accommodating the same parliamentarian who made the country bankrupt it is a visible to international community attitude is very important, Because, your behavior radiates how you feel any insults which when put upon him, and the best reply to behavior is taking grudge where he invites to destroy the own authority dwelling in isolation.

  • 8
    1

    … what successive governments have promised has not been delivered.
    Although the above guilt is related to SL’s promise to UNHRC, it is equally applicable in internal affairs as well. It runs in the blood.
    .
    … murder and looting as they have done liberally over the past two or more decades.
    Jehan Perera, You waited that long to speak about murder and looting done liberally?

    • 4
      1

      Successive governments had made promises, but conveniently refrain to implement those promises by either them or their successor governments.

      Even when they made promises they had no intension of turning their promises into action, but to cheat!

      The UNHRC could not be expected to tolerate such a cavalier way the UNHRC is treated.

      This behavior is affront to the existence of UNHRC.

      UNHRC had given amble opportunities to Sri Lanka to behave and abide by the resolutions, but to no avail .

      Now the time has come for the UNHRC to expose the bluff and take a firm decisive action.

  • 6
    1

    The way its governed, there won’t be foreign investors apart from China and India.
    Better gives the South to China and north and the east to India, rather than selling all the resources.and we are loosing human resources too,in the form of foreign employment. Making social problems.

    It’s very far too expensive to keep up the welfare of our legislators, and the amount of forces we have, don’t know who we get threats from.

  • 5
    1

    It is not only the Political Leaders who have created the economic chaos but also BY the country’s business community & various professional bodies. The Clergy representing both Buddhism and Christianity too should shoulder the responsibility of not guiding the Politicians. UNHCR resolutions come and go like GoSL promises that are made to hoodwink the World.;?

    • 3
      0

      Cugan whilst all this economic and political turmoil is happening, the so-called Archeological department is making efforts to confiscate all the agricultural lands both private and lands belonging to the Hindu temple and give them to the illegally constructed Chingkalla Buddhist temple, despite the court case pending and the court order to demolish this illegally constructed Chingkalla Buddhist temple on the site of an ancient Hindu temple. Nothing is going to change the racist mindset of most Chingkallams. They can starve, economically ruin themselves, beg from India and Thamizh Nadu but still want to destroy the Thamizh, use the state resources to destroy their history, religious places of worship, archaeological sites, and language and take over their land.

      • 2
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        Meanwhile the TNA leadership Chambanthan/Chumanthiran just grin wait and do nothing.

  • 7
    2

    Citizens arrested under the PTA and jailed long ago by Gotabaya when he was Director are still in jail without trial. Recently a minister who visited a jail, called them up and threatened them with his gun !!!! This matter has been hushed up !!!
    What price justice under this regime?

    • 5
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      J
      This regime?
      Any regime.

  • 0
    0

    The conduct of the Police and the Armed Forces by assaulting the unarmed protesters in brutal manner for expressing their pain to the unbearable suffering they have to endure directly resulting from the plundering of the nation by the rogue political leaders is most disgusting. Literally, they are biting the hand that feeds them which even a four legged creature would not dare. Instead they should join the protesters and get rid of the rouges.

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