Sri Lanka Tamils agree to more time over war probe
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party Wednesday accused Colombo of failing to comply with a UN Human Rights Council resolution, but said they were willing to give more time for war crimes investigations.
The main Tamil party said President Maithripala Sirisena who secured 18 months more from the UN rights body after coming to power in January 2015 has done little to address war-crimes.
Sirisena’s administration agreed with a resolution which, among other things, called for special war crime tribunals and reparations for victims of an offensive that crushed separatist Tamil rebels by May 2009.
"Sri Lanka has not accomplished even one of those obligations," Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislator and spokesman M. A. Sumanthiran told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in Colombo. "They were given 18 months, but they haven’t done a single thing."
However, Sumanthiran, whose party is seen as a moderate group representing a vast majority of the island’s ethnic Tamil minority, said they were willing to give more time.
"We have requested the member countries and the High Commissioner for Human Rights that although the 18 months time has lapsed…Sri Lanka must be encouraged and made to accomplish every one of those undertakings that they agreed to.
"To that extent, Sri Lanka has to be given further time," Sumanthiran said.
His remarks came shortly after Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told the UN rights council in Geneva that Colombo’s committment to justice remained, but pleaded for patience and understanding.
"Our resolve to see the transitional justice process through, has not diminished," the minister said.
"With the help of all…with patience, understanding, and constant and consistent effort and perseverance we strongly believe that we can make the reconciliation process a success," he added.
TNA’s Sumanthiran said there were issues such as the problem of missing persons, military occupation of private land and tamil political prisoners that could be immediately addressed.
He urged the rights council to put in place robust mechanisms to monitor Sri Lanka’s implementation of the pledges it made in October 2015.
The council had asked Sri Lanka to ensure credible investigations into crimes during 37 years of civil war with separatists from the country’s Tamil minority that claimed at least 100,000 lives, and report back at to the current sessions in Geneva.
In September, the UN rights body indicated its patience was wearing thin, urging Colombo to "take concrete steps to address the impatience, anxiety and reservations towards the process".
A 2015 UN report laid bare horrific wartime atrocities committed by both the army and the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. (COLOMBO, March 1, 2017)