Govt. mission in Geneva seeks consensus on domestic probe Accountability issues:

article_imageby Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lankan government has got an opportunity to brief key stakeholders of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) well ahead of the presentation of an international report on alleged war time atrocities during the on-going session.

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC yesterday told The Island that he would accompany Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on a special Geneva mission.

They are scheduled to leave today (Sept. 11).

Minister Rajapakshe said that the government felt the need for consultations in Geneva in the wake of the US declaring its support for a thorough domestic inquiry into alleged violations.

The report is likely to be presented on September 30 during the on-going 30th session. A team led by Ms Sandra Beidas, formerly of the Amnesty International prepared the report in accordance with a US led resolution adopted with the support of the majority in the UNHRC. The Geneva body comprises 47 countries.

Twenty three countries, including US, UK, Germany, South Korea, France and Italy voted for the resolution targeting Sri Lanka.

According to the current time table, it will be taken up during the third and final week of the session, which starts on September 14 and concludes on October 2.

The sitting on Sri Lanka is expected to go on for three hours on September 30.

chandrika-warnsPrepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka, the report is a result of a resolution adopted by the UNHRC in March 2014, requesting the Commissioner to “undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) [February 21, 2002 to May 19, 2009]”.

The period signifies two events —the commencement of a ceasefire agreement between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE and the annihilation of the LTTE.

Minister Rajapakshe said that he accompanied U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap when the official made his first official visit outside of Colombo to Kandy on Wednesday, visiting Sri Dalada Maligawa and paying his respects to chief prelates.

Minister Rajapakshe said that the government was on the right track.

Former Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem yesterday said that a comprehensive domestic inquiry could help clear misconceptions regarding the final phase of the conflict.

Joining a live discussion on SLBC’s ‘Subarathi’ yesterday, SLMC leader explained the difficulties experienced during previous visits to Geneva. Geneva passed three resolutions targeting Sri Lanka during the previous administrations.

The minister said the new government was handling the Geneva issue in a different way. Hakeem admitted that the new strategy seemed to be working with the international community paving the way for Sri Lanka to address accountability issues through the domestic mechanism.