27 October, 2020

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Sri Lankan Govt. Retaliates To Proposed UNHRC Resolution By Arresting Activists And Witnesses: AHRC

A draft resolution promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka is to be discussed at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The proposed resolution calls for, among other things, the Office of the High Commissioner, “To lead a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka and establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes committed with the view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability with assistance from relevant experts”.

Lalith MahindaIn retaliation to this proposed resolution the government is conducting demonstrations in various parts of the country through its supporters.

Meanwhile, a number of human rights activists have been arrested, detained, and are being interrogated by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID). Yesterday night (March 16, 2014), Ruki Fernando and the Rev. Praveen were arrested in Kilinochchi by the TID. Last week, Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari and her 13-year-old daughter, Vithuskaini, who have been campaigning against enforced disappearances were also arrested and are being interrogated by the TID.

Ruki Fernando is a human rights advisor to INFORM, a human rights documentation centre based in Colombo. He is a well known human rights defender in Sri Lanka who has also participated in international advocacy for the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. Rev. Praveen OMI is the director for the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation (CPR) based in Jaffna. Both of them were travelling to visit Ms. Jayakumari and Vithuskaini.

Two lawyers contacted the Kilinochchi Police Station soon after the arrest of Fernando and Rev. Praveen came to be known. Initially the Kilinochchi police denied that they had made the arrest. However, they informed that two persons had been arrested by a specially appointed unit of the TID and they were being held at a separate location in Kilinochchi. Later the Kilinochchi police confirmed that Ruki Fernando and Rev. Praveen were being questioned by around 15 TID officers at the Kilinochchi Police Station. The OIC of the Kilinochchi police, Mr. Kumara, later confirmed the arrest of these two persons and further stated that “Ruki Fernando and Rev. Praveen behaved in a suspicious manner as they visited some families of those who have lost their family members”.

The arrest of Ruki Fernando and Rev. Praveen, as well as Ms. Balendran Jayakumari and her 13-year-old daughter, Vithuskaini, was done with the involvement of a large number of TID officers and security personnel. Before the arrest of Ms. Jayakumari and her daughter it is reported that a large group of army personnel surrounded her house. Ms. Jayakumari and her daughter campaigned for information regarding persons who had been victims of enforced disappearances which included Ms. Jayakumari’s son. A picture of the daughter appeared in the media, holding her disappeared brother’s photograph, calling for his recovery.

The Asian Human Rights Commission calls upon the Sri Lankan government to engage with the Human Rights Council in a positive manner and make use of the opportunity of this resolution to overcome many of the serious problems relating to human rights and the protection of the country’s citizens which has prevailed in Sri Lanka over a long period of time. The entire legal system, including the capacity of the police for investigations into crimes, the capacity of the Attorney General’s Department to act as an independent and impartial prosecutor and above all the capacity of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka to act independently and ensure the protection for individuals against state repression has all been undermined and compromised. The opportunity that has become available through the premier global institution for the protection of human rights, which is the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner’s office, provides an unprecedented opportunity to resolve these problems and to reestablish rule of law which has been lost.

As the proposed resolution also empowers the High Commissioner’s office to investigate human rights violations and other crimes committed by the LTTE this provides a great opportunity to reestablish and strengthen the capacity of the Sri Lankan state to deal with problems of terrorism and to establish a framework to prevent the recurrence of the dismal situation which has prevailed during the last four decades. In this manner the proposed resolution also provides an opportunity for the Sri Lankan state to abandon the militaristic path that it has entered into after the suppression of the LTTE. Demilitarisation is an unavoidable necessity for the normalization of the entire situation of the country as well as for reconciliation with the minorities.

The Asian Human Rights Commission calls upon the president of Sri Lanka and the government not to utilise the proposed resolution as a propaganda stunt for petty political ends. The position taken by the Sri Lankan president and expressed openly through the media that it is only the people through the electoral process that has the power to deal with any crimes that may have been committed, is an untenable position under international law. Sri Lanka, as a member of the United Nations and also a participant of the Human Rights Council is not entitled to challenge the very mandate of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council. Such challenges do not contribute to the betterment of the country but, in fact, lead to the isolation of Sri Lanka within the community of nations.

We especially call upon the Sri Lankan government not to use its security forces, particularly the Terrorism Investigation Division and intelligence services with a view to harass and intimidate victims of human rights abuses who seek justice and human rights defenders, journalists and others who are playing their role to ensure protection for the people.

We call upon the Sri Lankan government to release Ms. Balendran Jayakumari and her 13-year-old daughter, Vithuskaini, Ruki Fernando and Rev. Praveen as there is no justifiable reason to arrest or detain them.

We call upon the High Commissioner for Human Rights to pay special attention during this time of the debate on the proposed resolution, and thereafter, to take all measures within her mandate to ensure protection for victims of human rights abuse by the government as well as the LTTE so as to avoid their harassment and intimidation. This must also include the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and all other persons who want to contribute to justice and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

We also call upon all civil society organisations throughout the world and media organisations to be on special alert on behalf of the victims of human rights abuses, human rights defenders, journalists and others on this special occasion and in the immediate period thereafter.

*Statement of the Asian Human Rights Commission

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    As the AHRC has fittingly quoted from the revised draft, the proposed resolution calls upon, among other recommendations, the Office of the High Commissioner, “To lead a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka and establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes committed with the view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability with assistance from relevant experts.”

    The investigations will be on both parties.

    The investigations will be on alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes.

    The investigation will be comprehensive led by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    The scope of the investigation will be to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations.

    The purpose will be to avoid impunity and ensure accountability.

    It is my view that whatever the weaknesses of UN system, this is the best for Sri Lanka under the given circumstances. In addition to avoid impunity and ensure accountability, I must add that such an investigation with the full cooperation of the government and the civil society organizations could and should ensure the halting of the recurrence of cycles of violence and conflicts in the country.

    In the absence of such an initiative, another cycle of conflict and violence might recur. There are all signs of such a situation at present in the country.

  • 0
    6

    first of all Sri Lanka do not need NGOs. there is an elected political party in the NE and its a soul representative of the community. these NGOs fellas must find another job rather than getting easy money by providing information against a government.

    Sl government taking all the steps to prevent people using the chance of human rites to destroy the image of the country.

    the human rites must prevail and to do that people of the country must stand up unitedly. the human rites during war cannot be questioned only on sri alnka ,where as a greater degree of rites violated by the so call human rite defending countries in the recent past. legitimate government fought a war with the citizen of the same country who turned out to be terrorist with the influence of the west. it was a business for the past 25 years for them. fund raising and arm smuggling was at its peak during such times. those who supported the fight against the government cannot
    claim the rite as those who supported the government. what rite does a terrorist has after all. did Osama get his rite as a renown terrorist ?
    its high time to stop this drama and live a new life. a mother of a terrorist son cannot bring down a country of 20 million people. similarly those who support the similar notion should do it out of the territories of the subject nation. the human rites and the democracy is subjected to the current context of a given country. there cannot be a universal democracy which each country should follow. the democracy should be achieve over the years of development of such nations. but the judiciary should be independent and the rule of law should be abide by all the citizens for the best interest for the given country including the president. he or she should not be above the law.

  • 5
    0

    Why should anyone go round in circles anymore.

    By doing what they have done, the Government of
    the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
    has proved beyond any modicum of doubt that there
    is impunity.

    The arrests show scant regard for accepted norms
    or the laws of the land. The message – we don’t care
    a rap for the international community. We do it our
    way.

    Please go on doing it your way. History has several
    examples of what happened to those who did it their
    own way, like dictators do.

  • 1
    2

    The futality of watering down this resolution will become apparent as events unfold. The record speaks for itself. Deceit is the name of the game. However, the big power is also not a clean player.

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