Urges that Govt, Pillay discuss the setting up of a OHRHC with a monitoring function with a mandate for the post-war period and as an alternative to an international inquiry into alleged war crimes
Sri Lanka’s ex-UN Ambassador to Geneva, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka yesterday called for the setting up of an Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) in the island, saying such a move would be in the public interest because of the state of human rights in the country in peacetime, a newspaper in Colombo said.
Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, former Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva (2007-2009) and a former Vice President of the UN Human Rights Council (2007-2008), advised that visiting UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay and the Sri Lankan Government should explore the possibility of a setting up an office with a monitoring function, the Sunday Leader’s Easwaran Rutnam reports.
He said that the OHCHR should function on the strict proviso that it is an alternative to an international inquiry mechanism in to the war that will be strictly limited to the post-war period, the report said.
“While ambassador/permanent representative to the UN in Geneva I was in the forefront of the opposition to such an office being established in wartime because I felt it could be used to leverage a ceasefire and forestall our definitive liberation from the Tigers.
I still think I was right at the time, but given the human rights situation in peacetime, the impunity and immunity flaunted by state terrorism against unarmed citizens, I think that such a presence of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner’s Office would be in the public interest,” the newspaper quoted Dr. Jayatilleka as saying.
The newspaper said that Dr Jayatilleka, who has had direct dealings with Pillay during his term in Geneva, said she can be seen as independent and highly autonomous. “She is by no means a front for the West or the global North. She has criticized the USA, Israel, Libya, Syria and Iraq. The worst I can say about her contains a sincere compliment within the criticism; she is a human rights fundamentalist. The world needs such people,” the report quoted the former Ambassador as saying.
Dr Jayatilleka however told the newspaper that it would be a ‘joke’ if anyone in the Government thinks they can be tough with her when she comes. “Navi Pillay is impossible to intimidate. If the Government tries to be ‘tough’, the world’s media will relay it, and we shall lose even more votes than we have lost already in the UN Human Rights Council.
Navi Pillay is a respected world figure, known as a moral and ethical voice and a keeper of conscience. I have crossed swords with her successfully on important occasions, but have great respect for her,” the newspaper quoted Jayatillaka as saying.