Feature Article

UNHRC urged to adopt multitrack investigations, including SL State responsibility for genocide

[TamilNet, Monday, 23 March 2020, 22:52 GMT]
Malaysian human rights activist lawyer Maha Ramakrishnan who addressed the UNHRC earlier this month told TamilNet this week that the UN human rights mechanisms must consider a multi-track approach on the SL State crimes. Forwarding the statements she delivered under Agenda Item 4 and prepared for Item 5, she said the UN needs to review its previous reports, resolutions, actions and enact stronger steps. Both the former “consensus” regime and present “confrontational” regime have demonstrated their lack of political will. The UNHRC resolutions failed as it didn’t foster conditions for the political will to emerge on the part of the SL State. Passing a strong resolution under Agenda Item 4 or creating an exclusive Agenda Item for “Sri Lanka” crimes, the UN must also address SL State responsibility on Tamil genocide as well as individual criminal liability, she said.

The Geneva-based UN Rights regime, as well as the UN member states that could act without geopolitical and legal prejudice, must come forward to revamp the international accountability through passing a robust resolution in the UNHRC. At the same time, they should also seek justice through the International Court of Justice, and the International Criminal Court oriented processes, as in the case of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, she said.

In the meantime, there must be a move towards internationally mediated conflict resolution to create conditions for political will to emerge on the ground, Maha Ramakrishnan said.

Ramakrishnan's address delivered under Agenda Item 4 General Debate during the 43rd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council on 11 March 2020, follows:

Dear Madame Vice President,

Maha Ramakrishnan
Malaysian lawyer and activist Maha Ramakrishnan addressing the Council under General Debate on Agenda Item 4, 28th Meeting, 43rd Regular Session on 11 March 2020
The Sri Lankan state which co-sponsored United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 in September 2015 failed to bring transitional justice or progress on substantial issues but bought time and space. The same with subsequent Resolution 34/1 and 2019 Resolution 40/1.

This month SL State unilaterally withdrew from the co-sponsorship. Lack of political will is shown by both the consensus path Wikramasinghe-Sirisena regime and current confrontational path regime of Rajapaksa siblings.

Leading politicians who were proponents of the consensus resolutions 30/1, 34/1 and 40/1 stated that they rescued the war-time leaders, the Rajapaksa siblings and their military commanders, from the electric chair of possible international criminal investigations. Also that they “restored the dignity” of Sri Lankan State and military by deploying Sri Lankan military as UN Peacekeeping Force.

Resolution 30/1 attempted to bring reconciliation and transitional justice through constitutional reforms, which is not possible without the international community –particularly this Council – creating the conditions for political will by enforcing international justice without any geopolitical prejudice.

The time has come for the UN Human Rights Council to address the question of Tamil genocide under Agenda Item 4.

Investigating individual responsibility of war crimes and crimes against humanity is not enough.

Sri Lankan State-responsibility for genocide of Tamils must be addressed by the international community, particularly this Council for political will to emerge on the part of the Sri Lankan State.

The speech prepared by Ramakrishnan to be delivered under Agenda Item 5, but cancelled due to Corona outbreak, follows:

Citing that co-sponsoring was ultra vires its constitution the Sri Lankan State recently withdrew from its co-sponsorship to United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 40/1. It also failed to implement consensus Resolutions.

This Council is humbly requested to table a follow-up resolution on Sri Lanka while also pursuing various avenues to address crimes committed by Sri Lanka and its high command officials.

UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and The Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation & guarantees of non-recurrence should both draw their kind attention to the past and continuing crime of genocide in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka State wishes to focus its issues mainly to Agenda Item 10, only on aspect of development to give it time and space to escape liability for its crimes.

Sri Lanka could also be applied to Item 4 or a separate Item created like it was done for the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.

The High Commissioner could also move the United Nations Security Council through the General Secretary to make a referral to the International Criminal Court or set up an ad-hoc criminal tribunal.

Member states of this great assembly could also follow the recent example of Gambia's case against Myanmar as there are close parallels of extremist religious ideologies in Myanmar and Sri Lanka resulting in genocide.

Reconciliation is not possible within the unitary Sri Lanka, external retributive justice as well as internationally mediated conflict resolution must be tried.

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