By Shamindra Ferdinando
The British government yesterday said that its position vis-a-vis the investigation undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) into alleged war crimes accusations hadn’t changed.
The British HC in Colombo was responding to a query by The Island whether the US had consulted UK regarding its decision to back Sri Lanka’s domestic investigation into alleged war crimes accusations and whether UK would throw its weight behind the proposed US resolution in Geneva backing the Sri Lankan initiative.
The OHCHR ordered an exhaustive external investigation in accordance with a US sponsored resolution at the Geneva based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March 2014. The UK backed the US initiative.
The Island also sought UK’s stand on the forthcoming report prepared by an investigation team led by Sandra Beidas under the supervision of three international experts in accordance with a US sponsored resolution adopted in Geneva in March 2014. Beidas formerly with the UK headquartered Amnesty International is now with the OHCHR.
A spokesperson for the British HC said: “The UK remains fully committed to the UN process, including the OHCHR investigation and the publication of its report in September. It will then be for the government of Sri Lanka to demonstrate what progress it has made towards reconciliation and accountability, and how it will take forward the recommendations of the OHCHR report. We have consistently called for Sri Lanka to make progress domestically. It is important that any accountability process is credible, inclusive, transparent, independent and meets international standards.”
The OHCHR put off the publication of the report previously scheduled for last March until September following a request made by the new Sri Lankan government consequent to January 8 presidential election.
Responding to the same query that was posed to the British HC, a senior spokesperson for the Indian High Commission said that the government of India regularly consulted its partners, including the US on issues of mutual interest. Commenting on the proposed US resolution in Geneva next month, the spokesperson said that India couldn’t comment because the text of the resolution was yet to be made available publicly. The HC said that India’s stand on this issue had been detailed in the “Explanation of Vote” in March 2014 by the Permanent Representative of India to the UN in Geneva.
The Canadian government failed to respond to The Island query regarding shift in US stand vis a vis war crimes investigation, though an official based in Ottawa inquired about our requirement. The EU mission in Colombo was also not available for comment.