By Amanda Hodge –
SRI Lanka has warned a vote this week on a UN Human Rights Council resolution that could lead to a fresh probe into alleged war crimes committed during the 26-year civil conflict will derail the delicate peace process there.
The 47-member council is due to vote tomorrow on the US-sponsored resolution, which calls for the Sinhalese majority government “to address serious allegations of violations of international law by initiating credible and independent investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for such violations”.
It also calls for Sri Lanka to act on recommendations made by its Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission, such as demilitarising the former Tamil Tiger-held north and east and publishing the names of detainees.
US officials have been lobbying hard for the resolution.
But Rajiva Wijesinha, adviser to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on reconciliation, described the aggressive lobbying as “startling” given “human rights and the welfare of civilians in conflict is something they’re not at all concerned with”.
The comment was an oblique reference to the killing of 16 Afghan civilians earlier this month by a US soldier in Kandahar.
Sri Lankan officials in Geneva have been pushing equally hard to defeat the resolution. Those efforts were dealt a blow on Monday when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated his government was “inclined to vote in favour of the resolution if (it) will cover our objectives, namely the achievement of a future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that is based on equality, dignity, justice and self-respect”.
India’s Congress Party-led alliance is under intense pressure from its southern Indian Tamil coalition partner, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party, to support the resolution.
Mr Wijesinha told The Australian from Geneva he did not believe that Mr Singh’s statement supporting those objectives necessarily represented support for the US push, “because we firmly believe that this resolution will not help to achieve that”.
Sri Lankan officials say much has been achieved since the May 2009 end of the war, with new roads and schools built in the Tamil-dominated north and east. The LLRC largely cleared the army of serious war crimes and human rights abuses, but found individual cases of human rights abuses by Sri Lankan troops.
A report commissioned by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, however, found “credible” allegations of rights violations by the army and Tamil Tigers.