UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussain meets with family members of the disappeared during his visit to the North-East (Photo: Tamil Guardian)
PEARL’s News Update 15 February 2016
UN Human Rights Chief visits Sri Lanka
Speaking at the conclusion of his visit to Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussain said the victims of Sri Lanka’s conflict must feel that justice has been served, whichever form the accountability mechanism takes. Mr Hussain said that his office thought that international participation can guarantee an impartial and independent court.
International participation in accountability mechanism: Government continues to blow hot and cold
While President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe backtracked from earlier comments, which seemed to exclude international participation in any accountability mechanism, senior government officials continued to state that this will not be allowed.
Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said the UNP and the SLFP were “on the same wavelength” on the Geneva resolution and against international participation in any justice process. Minister Faizer Mustapha and the new governor of the Northern Province, Reginald Cooray, also said that President Sirisena would not give in to international pressure and accept international judges.
President Sirisena meanwhile stressed that the government was not under any foreign influence, pointed out that he saved Mahinda Rajapaksa from the electric chair and claimed that Sri Lanka was continuing to overcome international obstacles – NewsFirst.
Government launches consultations on reconciliation
Sri Lanka has launched its consultations on the design of its four strands for reconciliation, which include accountability and reparations.
“I urge victims on both sides of the divide, religious leaders whose guidance is always appreciated, members of the public, the security forces, civil society, the public service, business-people, professionals to participate and contribute their ideas and experiences into the design of these mechanisms so that we can build a Sri Lanka that is truly reconciled and at peace and a Sri Lanka where equality, justice and freedom are a reality for all citizens,” Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said at the launch in Jaffna – Tamil Guardian. See his full speech here.
Prime Minister appoints committee to oversee Foreign Ministry
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is said to be disappointed by PM Wickremesinghe’s move to appoint a committee to oversee his work, reported to be in response at Mr Wickremesinghe’s unhappiness over the ministry’s conduct – AsianMirror.
Suspected war criminal Sarath Fonseka appointed MP by the UNP
The ruling UNP has appointed suspected war criminal Sarath Fonseka as a member of parliament. The move was criticised by Human Rights Watch, who said the move contradicted pledges made by the government to investigate war crimes – HRW.
Tamil political detainees want to face trial rather than go through rehabilitation and be released
Some of the Tamil political prisoners have refused to undergo the government’s controversial “rehabilitation” programme, saying that they’d rather face trial to prove their innocence – ColomboPage.
Sri Lankan military occupy new land in Kilinochchi – TNA
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP S Sritharan said the Sri Lankan military recently occupied 35 acres of privately owned land in Kilinochchi – Tamil Guardian.
Sri Lankan police construct Buddhist shrine on occupied land in Jaffna
The Sri Lankan police force has constructed a new Buddhist shrine in Jaffna. The shrine was built on land taken from locals in 1990 – Tamil Guardian.
Sinhala protest in London warns against constitutional change
Organisers said the protest was held to raise awareness of “secessionists and lackeys of international forces trying to foist a federal constitution and endangering the armed forces” – Sunday Times.
UN Special Rapporteur visits Sri Lanka
UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff reiterated the importance of carrying out national consultations for an accountability mechanism that has victim participation, as he concluded a visit to the island last week – OHCHR.
The politics of punishing war crimes in Sri Lanka
Prioritising the punishment of war criminals in Sri Lanka over other measures to achieve reconciliation risks re-empowering the extremists and undermining the government’s genuine reform efforts, according to Ram Manikkalingam, who is a board member of President Sirisena’s Office for National Unity and Reconciliation.
“International human rights activists should curb their enthusiasm to address accountability by giving priority to establishing a war crimes court. Instead they should push first for truth commissions, reparations and identifying the missing. A war crimes court can follow,” he said – OpenDemocracy.
Accountability and a Political Solution: A Response to Ram Manikkalingam
“In this response to his article, I claim that Manikkalingam’s dichotomization of a political solution to the national question and accountability for atrocity crimes is false, but also that in sequencing reconciliation measures, it is strategically better to establish the legal architecture to try atrocity crimes earlier rather than later.” Niran Anketell, writing on Groundviews.
Where is journalist Subramanium Ramachandran 9 years after he disappeared?
“Ramachandran’s case is one of the few cases where there is compelling evidence and eyewitness accounts to unravel what happened to him after his disappearance. This includes reports of him being seen at a specific Army camp in 2013, 6 years after he had disappeared. However, the family has not been informed of any attempts to obtain information from the authorities. Ramachandran’s family has been waiting for nine years in the hope that he would return one day. Will Ramachandran ever return home? Will his family and colleagues ever receive answers from the Government on what happened to him after his disappearance?” Ruki Fernando and Swasthika Arulingam – Groundviews.
He came, he saw, he conjured
“This whole process of opening old wounds is part and parcel of the Resolution that was aimed at the previous regime in Sri Lanka. One needs to wait and see if the wound will heal, or fester as a result of this whole process. Soon after the UNHRC chief issued his statement the UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence says that Sri Lanka cannot be asked to make hasty decisions. The Jordanian Prince must have read Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ that lofty ideals sometimes translate to bad government; he speaks of the desirability of native troops and that leaders of a principality must avoid being hated and despised by the people; that their goodwill is the best defence of a fortress.” Editorial in the Sunday Times, critical of UN High Commissioner Zeid’s visit to Sri Lanka – Sunday Times.
Foreign Ministry kept out of the loop on Zeid’s visit
In its political column, the Sunday Times reveals confusion and contradictions within the government around Zeid’s visit – Sunday Times.