UN Sub-Commission urged to promote and protect Human Rights in Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 August 2005, 10:42 GMT]
There has been no proper investigation or punishment of culprits in the many cases of murders of human rights defenders and journalists in Sri Lanka, noted Ms. Deirdre McConnell in an oral intervention on the agenda item 3, "Administration of Justice, Rule of Law And Democracy," at the 57th session of UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human rights on Tuesday. "There has been no progress on the case of the assassination of Mr Kumar Ponnambalam on 5th January 2000, despite ample evidence regarding the alleged perpetrators of the crime," she said citing a number of instances that evidenced "pattern of bias" in the Sri Lankan judicial system.

Ms. MacConnell was representing Interfaith International, an International NGO accredited by UN's Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC), with the formal capacity to intervene in UN Human Rights bodies.

"Racist policies implemented on citizenship, language, education, land and other areas discriminate severely against Tamils," she said.

McConnell appealed the forum to promote and protect Human Rights and thereby make a "valuable contribution for the good of all the peoples of the island of Sri Lanka."

Some extracts from the oral statement follow:

"After delays and postponements, eventually the culprits of the Bindunuwewa mass murder in October 2000, in which 27 young detainees were brutally murdered, were simply acquitted by the Supreme Court.

"In the case of the Kokkadicholai massacre of 1991, the Kokkuvil massacre of September 1990 or Kumarapuram massacre of February 1996, none of the security personnel involved have been prosecuted. The Kokkuvil massacre and Kumarapuram massacre cases continue to drag on in the courts.

"After the Attorney General had indicted eighteen Sinhala soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army with the murder of thirty-five Tamil civilians including fourteen children in the Mylanthanai village in Batticaloa district on August 9 1992, all the eighteen accused were acquitted by the High Court Judge in Colombo. The soldiers had made successful application to have the inquiry transferred to Colombo, for their safety – regardless of the lack of safety for the victims’ witnesses, who had to travel to areas where they felt unsafe and were intimidated. The Sinhalese speaking Jury, for which the soldiers had made successful application, brought a unanimous verdict of not guilty.

"We are sad to have to report that there has been no progress on the case of the assassination of Mr Kumar Ponnambalam on 5thJanuary 2000, despite ample evidence regarding the alleged perpetrators of the crime. There has been no proper investigation or punishment of culprits in the many cases of murders of human rights defenders and journalists, Mr Chandra Nehru, Mr G. Nadesan, Mr M. Nimalarajan, and Mr D. Sivaram. Delayed justice is justice denied.

"Recently a statue of Buddha was erected illegally in Trincomalee, with political motivation, intent on causing tension among local communities, and clearly not for worship. The local District court ordered the removal of the statue, a decision overturned by the Supreme Court. Increased armed forces have been stationed in the town, presenting a picture of being under military occupation. Local people feel insulted and humiliated by this unwarranted oppression, and demand impartial implementation in the enforcement of law and order.

"The Supreme Court, upholding a petition filed by Sinhala extremists on 15th July 2005 issued a stay order suspending four key provisions of the recently agreed Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS). This shows the inherent bias in the Sri Lankan Courts against Tamils, even in the face of the suffering caused by the catastrophic tsunami disaster of last December 26. When the structure was approved on 24th June by both parties, the tsunami victims hoped they would receive the aid that many in the world so generously gave. But after waiting more than six months they are bitterly disappointed by the action of the Supreme Court."

She further observed: "In 1972, twenty four years after independence from British rule the dominant Sinhala Buddhist majority gave itself an autochthonous constitution, renamed the island as 'Sri Lanka' (the old Sinhala name) and ensured that the Constitution secured a dominant role for Buddhism. The constitutional safeguards which had hitherto debarred the enactment of discriminatory legislation were scrapped."


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