The UNP today informed the Parliament that they decided to abstain from partaking in the vote held on the mandated OHCHR probe on Sri Lanka, owing to the government’s lack of genuine interest to protect Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The UNP was compelled to abstain from participating in the vote today due to the government’s non-acceptance of amendments suggested by the UNP that would have helped preserve Sri Lanka’s sovereignty,” Chief Opposition Whip, UNP MP John Amaratunga said.
MP Amaratunga in his statement listed out the suggestions made by the UNP to which includes annulling the joint statement issued by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on May 23 2009, effective implementation of the LLRC action plan, re-implementation of the 17th Amendment provisions, the inclusion of Latimer House principles to the constitution and the implementation of mechanisms that would assure the right to information.
“Unfortunately, all of these suggestions were rejected by the government,” he said.
He stated that the UNP is strictly against any international intervention on the country’s domestic processes irrelevant of political affiliations, but added such threats can only be avoided if democracy, human rights, rule of law and judicial independence is upheld in the country.
“The rejection of our proposals has made it evident that the government is not ready for such a transformation,” he said.
While describing the vote taken up today on the OHCHR probe as a feeble attempt by the government to accomplish their underhand motives through a few backbench MPs, he said that despite the government’s pledges to uphold sovereignty, it was the joint statement issued by the President and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon that paved way to call for an international inquiry into Sri Lanka.
“Despite our repeated advises to the President to reject the clause that welcomed an investigation into the war, the President proceeded with the joint statement – a fact that has been pointed out by UPFA MP Rajiva Wijesinghe himself,” he said while describing the 2009 joint statement as the ‘gravest betrayal of Sri Lanka’ since the Kandyan Convention of 1815.
MP Amaratunga went on to state the UNP is however not surprised at this ‘betrayal’ since it is the incumbent President, who made a complaint before the UNHRC against the then-UNP government while pledging to go before any international organization to uphold human rights, as an Opposition MP in 1990.
He pointed out the Government blunders did not stop there but were continued, with the persistent engagement with UN processes to probe the conflict in Sri Lanka through the sponsorship and approval of UNHRC resolution S-11/1 and cooperating with the UNSG’s Panel of Experts led by Masuki Darusman that probed alleged human rights violations and international humanitarian law during the conflict in country.
“It was these doors that the government swung wide open to the UN that has now been exploited to pave way for the UNHRC resolution that mandated the OHCHR probe against Sri Lanka in March,” he said.
Speaking further he said that Sri Lanka doesn’t need an international investigation to solve human rights issues in the country.
“There was a strong in place in Sri Lanka to protect Human Rights and we believe this probe can be evaded if that mechanism is revived,” he added.
Following a two-day debate on the mandated OHCHR probe on alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, a vote was taken up in Parliament this afternoon. The motion was signed by nine UPFA members to which includes Achala Jagoda, Malini Fonseka, Janaka Bandara, Udith Lokubandara, Shantha Bandara, J.R.P. Suriyapperuma, Nimal Wijesinghe, R. Duminda Silva and A.H.M.Azwer was presented by UPFA MP Janaka Bandara in Parliament. It was seconded by UPFA MP A.H.M.Azwer.
Amendment moved by Mangala Samaraaweera in Parliament today
Rejecting an international investigation can only be done acceptably if there is a credible domestic mechanism : credible and independent democratic institutions must be restored to address the issues of accountability as a matter of national urgency.
It is in this context the UNP is moving the following amendment to resolution No.P.212/14 of 13th June 2014.
” The house regrets that the government failed to consult Parliament prior to
- Issuing a joint communique with the Secretary General of the United Nations on 23rd May 2009.
- Jointly sponsoring a reseloution at the UNHRC bearing No.S 11/1 in May 2009 and the matters agreed upon and
- Making written submissions to the Darusman panel.
And the Parliament calls upon the government to:
- Bring the relevant bills to before the house within two months;
- Fully implement the totality of the LLRC recommendations.
- Revive the provisions of the 17th amendment to the constitution.
- Incorporate Latimer House Principles as an integral part of the constitution and
- Make provisions for the freedom of information.