ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s deposed former regime members are distorting a United Nations human rights ruling in an attempt to grab power using fear and hate, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, a former foreign affairs minister, said.
Last month’s UN Human Rights Council resolution to probe war crimes allegations was not a sanction but gave Sri Lanka more time to deal with its own issues, failing which international action could apply, he warned.
“If we fail to deal with our issues ourselves, then others will step in, and international action as well as universal jurisdiction will apply,” he said in a statement.
On March 22 the UN's top rights body approved without a vote a resolution to give Sri Lanka two more years to implement an official probe into allegations of crimes committed during the 30-year Tamil Tiger separatist war, which ended in 2009.
Samaraweera said that contrary to what is often being said, the content of UNHRC resolution 30/1 was based on Sri Lanka’s own proposals for truth-seeking, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence he presented to the council as foreign affairs minister in 2015.
“What we see from many in our political spectrum – from those holding the highest positions to those in obscure positions – is a plethora of contradictory, improvised and exaggerated accounts,” he said.
Samaraweera said the UN resolution had warded off prospects for international action against Sri Lanka during the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is now campaigning against the UN decision.
“It is important to remind everyone that it is if we, as a responsible and sovereign nation, fail to act that we place our citizens in grave peril because the message we then send out to the world is that we are unable or unwilling to do our job.
“If we fail to deal with our issues ourselves, then others will step in, and international action as well as universal jurisdiction will apply,” Samaraweera warned.
Opposition politicians and others distorting the UN resolution and campaigning against it were against preventing future crimes and anted a return to a climate of fear when white vans were used by government forces to abduct critics during the former regime, he said.
The UN decision incorporates Sri Lanka’s commitment to pass new, modern laws to prevent the repetition of the past, a better legal framework to fight terrorism and legislation to prevent forced disappearances, he said.
“This, as any legislation is not retroactive,” Samaraweera said. “Who could be against preventing future crime? Who could be against preventing disappearances in the future? Only those who may want a free hand to commit crime! Only those who would not hesitate in unleashing again the horror of the ‘White Van’ phenomenon!”
Samaraweera said that “there are those who oppose any measure to achieve accountability and reconciliation, because they don’t want justice.
“They calculate that by appealing to our worst instincts: by mobilizing the base emotions of fear and hate, they will grasp power.”
(COLOMBO, April 01, 2019)