nt’l experts can counter war crimes accusations – Wimal

By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP yesterday alleged that the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had failed to defend the Sri Lankan military against war crimes accusations made by the UN on the basis of UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s Panel of Experts’ (PoE) findings.

Colombo District MP Weerawansa has, in a hard-hitting letter dated Nov. 3 to President Maithripala Sirisena, condemned the new government for co-sponsoring a US sponsored resolution adopted at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Sept. 29.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera indicated Sri Lanka’s readiness to accept some issues contained in the resolution presented on Sept 29 when he addressed the UNHRC on Sept. 14, the NFF leader has said.

MP Weerawansa has warned of dire consequences of the government agreeing to implement the Sept. 29 resolution as well as 33 recommendations made by the UN human rights chief Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein.

The former JVP heavyweights emphasised that the UN-Sri Lanka agreement would result in far reaching consequences, including the President being deprived of power to act in accordance 154 Article of the Constitution to ensure national security.

The NFF leader said that the change of laws to pave the way for international role in the proposed judicial inquiry into alleged war crimes would be inimical to Sri Lanka. The MP pointed out that those found guilty by the proposed war crimes court comprising local and foreign judges as proposed by the Sept 29 resolution wouldn’t even get an opportunity to appeal.

The NFF asserted that the implementation of Sept 29 agreement would cause irreparable damage to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Having pointed out the impending foreign intervention, MP Weerawansa said that the government had purposely failed to present the Report on the Second Mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry Into Complaints of Abductions and Disappearances as well as six expert reports called by that Commission to the UNHRC and the international community.

MP Weerawansa said that those reports could have been used to counter unsubstantiated allegations directed against the military. Unfortunately, the government squandered the opportunity to use them effectively to defend the country.

MP Weerawansa also also submitted six expert reports namely Military expert opinion by Maj. Gen. John Holmes, legal opinion by Prof. Michael Newton, review of PoE report by Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC and Rodney Dixon , QC, legal opinion by Sir Desmond de Silva, opinion by Prof. D.M. Crane and Sir Desmond de Silva, QC and the Advisory Council of Experts and finally legal opinion concerning the law applicable to military operations between the government and the LTTE by Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC and Rodney Dixson, QC.