by Shamindra Ferdinando
Top UN coordinator in charge of the ongoing war crimes investigation into accountability issues in Sri Lanka, Sandra Beidas and Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha are unlikely to meet officially, though UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navanethem Pillay has asked for a powvow between the duo and the naming of a focal point, authoritative sources said.
Asked whether the government would consent for a meeting with Beidas as sought by Pillay in a letter dated July 5, addressed to External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris, sources said that the government didn’t see any need for such a confab against the backdrop of Sri Lanka’s decision to shun the investigation.
There was no need for naming a focal point either, sources said, adding that the government would closely monitor the project undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Declining to comment on the government strategy, sources said that the External Affairs Ministry had received an assurance from the OHCHR that the government would be given an opportunity to give explanations on both the oral and comprehensive report, in September, 2014 and March, 2015, respectively.
The September sessions are scheduled to take place from 8 to 26 with Pillay’s successor, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein at the helm.
A senior External Affairs Ministry official told The Island that the OHCHR was yet to explain its position on several crucial issues, though the high profile war crimes probe got underway in mid June this year. Noting that the OHCHR spokesman, Rupert Colville had declined to name members of the investigation team led by Beidas, the official said that UN agency should make its position clear on several issues pertaining to the inquiry. Perhaps, it would be necessary to decide whether a confidential report prepared by the UN during the conflict which dealt with the ground situation from August 2008 to May 13, 2009 would be examined by Beidas’s team, the official said.
The UN report prepared on the basis of information obtained from UN as well as INGO local staff living in the Vanni among others placed the number of dead and the wounded at 7,721 and 18,479, respectively, thus contradicting the main allegation directed at the GoSL that over 40,000 civilians perished during the last few weeks of the fighting, the official said.