15 December, 2019

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Sri Lanka Human Rights Commissioner Exposes His Bias; C’wealth Capacity Building Turns To Dust

The Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission that is consistently touted by the Rajapaksa Administration as one of its domestic mechanisms to address human rights concerns put forward by the international community has exposed itself badly following a interview granted to the state-controlled press by its Commissioner yesterday.

Prathibha Mahanama

Prathibha Mahanama

Commissioner Prathibha Mahanama who heads an institution that is supposed to be a recourse for citizens whose rights are being abused by the agencies of the state, told the Daily News that the Northern Provincial Council resolution seeking an international war crimes inquiry was a ‘sinister political agenda’ two months ahead of the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva. “We all know the allegiance that existed between the former LTTE terrorist group and the Tamil National Alliance that represents the Northern Provincial Council,” Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commissioner told the Rajapaksa state media which carried a major story on his comments yesterday.

“Their move has come just two months ahead of the Geneva UN Human Rights Council sessions. There is nothing but a sinister political agenda that is at play to discredit the government and the country. This has placed the country’s national security under threat,” Mahanama, who is a loyal acolyte of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa said, reflecting the sentiments often expressed by members of the defence establishment – against whom the most heinous allegations of rights abuses in the country are being made.

Mahanama claimed that passing of a resolution by the Northern Provincial Council calling for an international investigation into the alleged massacre of civilians in the final stages of the war was “similar to the unilateral declaration of a State of Eelam by Varadaraja Perumal, then Chief Minister of the North-Eastern Province and the leader of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) in 1990.”

It is deeply ironic that Commissioner Prathibha Mahanama and the Human Rights Commission he heads is touted by the regime as an example of the robust human rights protection mechanism that is in place in Sri Lanka.  It is even more ironic that it was for the HRC headed by Mahanama that the Commonwealth Secretariat spent the better part of its year assisting with building capacity so that the Commission could engage in a more efficient and credible process to investigate rights abuses in the country. The Secretariat’s interest in the Commission was motivated by the need to convince Commonwealth Member States that Sri Lanka was doing enough to address the mounting human rights charges against the Rajapaksa Administration domestically to warrant it assuming the Chair of the organisation.

Mahanama’s remarks to the state owned press, however, makes a mockery of these efforts.

If there was any doubt how Mahanama would view any allegation against the state for violating human rights it is clear when he views a call for credible investigation into alleged violations of humanitarian law as being sinister agendas aimed at ‘discrediting’ the country and posing national security threats.

Making further remarks in the Daily News, Mahanama said Washington and London were “hell bent” on bringing a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in March. “They are trying to take advantage of the situation to promote their sinister political agenda by virtue of this opportunity,” he said of the TNA.

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Latest comments

  • 18
    1

    What more proof does one need to confirm the oft stated view that the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka consists of stooges of the Government and that this body cannot in any way promote or protect the human rights of the citizens of the country. Let us hope those at the UNHRC and the Commonwealth countries will take note of this despicable character of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.

    This again brings into focus the need to re-enact the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and make it difficult for the President to pack the national commissions with his henchmen.

    • 6
      1

      It is like Saddam Hussiens’ HRC.

    • 3
      3

      Oh please, it’s not like there isn’t a bias towards third world countries in the UN. I think this article in the guardian hits the nail on the head regarding it . I’m all for an independent investigation regarding war crimes but we all know how ‘independent’ the UN really is.

      • 0
        0

        Ofcourse there is a clear and blatant bias against certain 3rd world countries while other 3rd world countries and 1st world countries get away with many human rights violations. That said it does not mean the 3rd world countries taken to task are innocent and should be allowed to get away with their crimes.

  • 4
    0

    And, there are still people who believe that SL has internal mechanisms can address the current regimes HR violations. I don’t think there is anything sinister or hidden about what was done and the resolution probably reflects the opinion of the people who elected NPC.

  • 5
    1

    THE SO CALLED HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF SRI LANKA IS A WASTE OF MONEY.

  • 6
    2

    There is no Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission, any such claimed commission is just another organ of the regime.

  • 5
    0

    It is ironic that even Wijedasa Rajapakse of the UNP says the Northern PC cannot pass such a resolution. Whether one agrees with the resolution is another matter. After the war, almost all UPFA-controlled PCs and local authorities passed resolutions praising the victory. Was the war victory within the powers of thee institutions? Elected representatives express the views of their constitutents. Many local authorities have passed resolutions on international issues. I remember in 1968, when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, LSSP controlled Village Councils condemned it! Many passed resolutions condemning apartheid in South Africa. We need to be broad-minded and allow people to vent their views. having said that I urge the Northern PC to get to work. If the Government and the Governor obstructs it, expose them.

  • 5
    1

    Prathiba Mahanama is not the Human Rights Commissioner, he should be named as the Human Rights Restriction Commissioner.

  • 6
    1

    There is nothing surprising about this. Today all the Rajapakse laundry fellows have been positioned in the right locations to protect the regime i.e. CJ, AG, Police Chief, Def Decy, SLHRC. Further more, they being sinhalese they would obviously want to cover up knowing the attrocities that have been committed continously on innocent tamils and the dastardly international shame this is going to bring on the sinhalese race. If an international inquiry is held and results known, their would not be a sinhalese who would want to call himself a sinhalese.

  • 3
    0

    When Sri Lankan HRC display his honest slave like attitude towards the person who gave him the job. A clear case cat jumping out of the bab.

  • 7
    6

    No, I disagree with the writer. Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commissioner doesn’t appear to be biased to me. Rather he is looking at the possible long term impact of NPC’s resolution on human rights in the country. He realises the reckless action of the NPC could pave the way for foreign intervention undermining the human rights of the entire population. He is right. The short-sighted and opportunistic TNA/ITAK and NPC are playing politics with human rights and it can turn out to be disastrous to the whole human rights edifice that we have developed over the years after much struggle. We should learn from the experience of countries where “humanitarian” interventions have wreaked havoc. We have to commend Mr. Prathibha Mahanama for being so far-sighted.

    • 0
      1

      How is the human rights of the entire nation undermined? No foreign power (i.e. Western power) is going to come and takeover SL, there is no oil or other natural resources for them to expend effort in installing a pro Western puppet that is against the masses.

    • 0
      1

      Kutti machan:

      TNA/ITAK and the NPC are playing politics while the SL regime and the HRC are playing marbles, literally I mean.

      SL achieved independence more than 60 years and the human rights situation has gone from bad to worse. So, what long term positive effects are you talking about? This creep masquerading as a HR Commissioner is still in the payroll of MR and undoubtedly would be beholden to his master.

      If indeed the concern is the “reckless” action of the NPC, then MR and the regime should not have been so reckless in keeping their promises on devolution. Surely, they cannot expect the world to keep quiet when they go on bluffing through their teeth. After all, the statement by the Commissioner only reaffirms the general belief and consensus many have on SL institutions, including the judiciary. They are simply phony institutions to sing the hosannas for the regime. The conviction with which the NPC took the initiative to pin and shame this regime is salutary.

  • 0
    0

    The only thing Prathiba Mahanama craves for is to have
    his photo and name in the media. It does not matter
    what is said. This is the level of most of today’s
    academics. Take a break Mahanama and help us from
    puking too much. You are damn disgrace!!!

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