By Shamindra Ferdinando
Contrary to pledges given by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government that it has reached some consensus with the UN and it is not under pressure to set up a hybrid war crimes court here, the Tamil Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has reiterated that Sri Lanka should be held accountable for the implementation of its own commitments in line with Geneva Resolution 30/1 adopted on Oct 1, 2015.
The resolution envisages hybrid court comprising local and foreign judges, including those from the Commonwealth. Geneva sessions are currently underway with the Sri Lanka issue to be taken up later this week.
TNA leader R. Sampanthan has told visiting UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman that the international community should ensure the full implementation of the Resolution 30/1.
The TNA took up the issue with Feltman last Friday (March 9) at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in parliament. The TNA parliamentary delegation consisted of R Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah, Selvam Adaikkalanathan (TELO), Dharmalingham Sitharthan (PLOTE) and M.A. Sumanthiran.
Earlier in the day, the UN official discussed the status of the implementation of Geneva Resolution with President Maithripala Sirisena. Feltman separately met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also on the same day.
The UN official undertook the visit close on the heels of the setting up of the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP), one of the four mechanisms prescribed by Geneva. In addition to OMP, Sri Lanka has agreed to establish a truth seeking commission, an office for reparations and a hybrid judicial mechanism with a special counsel.
The TNA declared in 2016 that there had been a tripartite agreement involving Sri Lanka, the TNA and the US as regards the inclusion of foreign judges in a hybrid court.
Political sources told The Island that the TNA had been trying to consolidate its position in the wake of rivals making electoral gains in the northern region, particularly in the Jaffna peninsula at its expense. The Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) has made significant gains in the north. Running under the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), TNPF won the most seats for Jaffna’s two largest urban councils Point Pedro and Chavakachcheri. Sources pointed out that the TNPF had launched its own campaign to pressure the UN and Western governments regarding grievances of the Tamil community.
While the TNA, under Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, retained the Jaffna Municipal Council with 16 seats, the ACTC came a close second with 13 seats.
According to the TNA, Sampanthan has briefed Feltman as regards the post-local government polls situation. The TNA has stressed that the 2015 mandate received by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration should be upheld regards of post-poll developments. The TNA quoted Sampanthan as having stressed that the present government must continue to implement the mandate received by it, and that couldn’t deviate from that mandate for any reason.
Sampanthan has said that the government couldn’t fail to proceed with the constitution making process. “If it abandons the process it will only mean that the state is unable to comply with the resolution unanimously adopted by the Sri Lankan Parliament for the enactment of a constitution for Sri Lanka as one single undivided indivisible country,” Sampanthan said, urging the international community to play a constructive role in this matter.
Commenting on the Geneva resolution, Sampanthan has stressed that the resolution must be implemented fully. He has requested closer engagement of the international community in this regard to hold the government of Sri Lanka accountable for its own commitments. Sampanthan has asserted that inordinate delay in implementing the resolution has resulted in public losing confidence in the Government and its structures.
Sampanthan has urged the international community to ensure that commitments are fulfilled without undue delay.
The TNA has received an assurance from Feltman that human rights chief would be briefed on the latest developments in the country.