13th October 2015

UK affirms need for foreign judges in Lankan probe

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

The British Government has affirmed the need for foreign judges in Sri Lanka’s domestic accountability process to ensure its credibility. UK Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth office Hugo Swire, in a letter to a group of British Parliamentarians, said that the resolution adopted recently at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) notes the importance of the participation of Commonwealth and other foreign judges and defence lawyers in Sri Lanka’s judicial accountability process. Writing to the UK MPs in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils and on Sri Lanka, Swire said that the resolution has a clear call for Sri Lanka to reform its domestic law to ensure that it can effectively implement its own commitments, including by allowing for the trial […]

Rajapaksa Also Used Foreign Experts – S. B. Dissanayake

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

by Waruni Karunarathne  Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a communiqué recently slamming the UNHRC resolution that was passed unanimously at the Council sessions in Geneva. According to Mahinda, the resolution is not a ‘victory’, and it does not protect the interests of the ‘war heroes’. In the contrary, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) praised the resolution. Speaking to The Sunday Leader, SLFP Minister S.B Dissanayake said that former President Rajapaksa should take the blame for antagonising foreign powers because of his poor diplomatic relations. Following are excerpts of the interview:   Q: Is the SLFP fully content with the UNHRC resolution, or do you have any areas of concern? A: When compared to the situation that the country underwent earlier, we are very satisfied. […]

China link keeps former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa in frame

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

Beijing’s special envoy took the unusual step of meeting with Rajapaksa last week – official visits are usually limited to government figures. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one was particularly eloquent. Adding a fresh twist to what would otherwise be a plain vanilla diplomatic visit by the Chinese special envoy to Sri Lanka last week, former China-friendly president Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted a picture of himself posing with the Chinese special envoy. An endorsement of sorts of an old friend in trouble, the picture signalled Beijing’s willingness to keep its options open in the strategically important Indian Ocean nation. It was also a departure from Beijing’s usual outreach as Chinese envoys are known to restrict their interaction to government figures. The current […]

War crimes and sexual offences Lack of evidence, main bugbear

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

BY Mirudhula Thambiah The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader Veerasingham Anandasangaree said any charges relating to war crimes on sexual abuse, rape or murder cannot be proved as there was hardly any evidence since most of the crimes were not visible to the people. Also affected victims are mostly women who will rarely be in a situation to give evidence of sexual abuse and rape. “There are certain things from which you cannot escape, as there is concrete evidence. However, it is hard to prove war crimes, sexual abuse and rape because there is no eyewitness accounts. Therefore, it is difficult to prove such crimes,” he said. Excerpts: ?Ministers recently said they will back the security forces in the war crimes probe. Special lawyers […]

Political murders must be probed

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

Arrest of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan also known as Pillaiyan last Monday (11), though belated by a decade is undeniably positive progress. People responsible for political assassinations and crimes of all sorts, although it may not be all, are being apprehended. During the past decade or so these ‘alleged criminals’ were turned politicians by successive governments and baptized ceremoniously into the mainstream of politics in the country. That act itself is massively detrimental to human values and democracy a government of a country stands for. This was all done in the name of politics and the benefit of the country, although it did not turn out that way in the end. It also a move for politicians to win elections in areas where these ‘alleged criminals’ once […]

THE GENEVA RESOLUTION AND POLITICS: A NOTE OF CAUTION

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

The recent Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka is a remarkable document. Crafted in the immediate aftermath of the devastating OISL Report on Sri Lanka whose central recommendation was that a ‘special hybrid court’ be established in Sri Lanka, and despite some hiccups during negotiations, a resolution eventually acceptable to a wide range of parties found uncontested passage through the Council. The government’s eventual co-sponsorship of the resolution signaled their full acceptance of its language. In exchange for its support, the Sri Lankan government was rewarded with text that congratulated it, and approvingly recognized many of its voluntary commitments. Moreover, the resolution offered the government the interpretive space to claim to its domestic audience that it had overcome a challenging trial in Geneva. On […]

Tamil CM Wigneswaran writes to President Sirisena on Tamil prisoners

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran, in a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, raised concerns over the safety of the Tamil prisoners staging a fast to register their protest at their prolonged imprisonment. He said that there is a concern that the fast may be violently dealt with by prison officers, as has happened in the past. “The problem is a human issue that should be dealt with both passion and empathy, given the number of years that these unfortunate human beings have been kept incarcerated without trial. I believe that if we could take steps to give those unfortunate persons the assurance that steps would be taken in respect of their cases within a specified period of time they would be satisfied,” he […]

Tamil political prisoners go on hunger strike in Sri Lanka jails

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

Tamil political prisoners lodged in several jails in Sri Lanka, many of them without trial since 2009 when the civil war ended, on Monday began a hunger strike, demanding their release. The prisoners are calling for a Presidential pardon and said that they will not suspend their fast unto death till they get an acceptable solution. The prisoners at the Welikada prison are among those who are taking part in the fast, the Prisons Department officials were quoted as saying by Colombo Gazette. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has called for the release of all Tamil political prisoners. TNA leader R Sampanthan, who is the leader of the Opposition in Parliament, last week appealed to the Government not to look at the issue on political […]

After dodging war crimes probe, Lanka focuses on truth, reconciliation

13th October 2015 // 0 Comments

Sri Lanka’s nine-month old President Maithripala Sirisena seems to be playing his cards just right. Sirisena and incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appear to be making friends across the world, including with the all-powerful United States, which has helped them dodge an international war crimes probe. Within just months after taking over office, they have been able to finally thwart repeated attempts for an international probe. Instead, they have convinced the international community to allow Sri Lanka to conduct a domestic probe over the alleged war crimes that took place during the final stages of the armed conflict against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009, where over 40,000 civilians were believed to have been killed. In an important turning point, the resolution […]