By Easwaran Rutnam and Waruni Karunarathne
The investigations into the war on Sri Lanka by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will continue despite a split seen at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last Thursday when Sri Lanka was discussed once again, OHCHR officials said.
The investigations team of OHCHR is collecting testimonials as part of the investigation and had last week translated the document calling for submissions from English to Sinhalese and Tamil.
OHCHR informed the UNHRC last week that the investigation on Sri Lanka is facing a real challenge going to a climate of intimidation and threat. United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansier, said the threats undermines the prospects for Sri Lanka’s own domestic investigations, where witness and victim protection has long been a major concern.
Meanwhile, OHCHR is going to carefully study the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Bill submitted to Parliament recently. OHCHR says it will see if the draft legislation is in compliance with international standards.
OHCHR however noted that a preliminary analysis into the Witness Protection Bill raises a number of concerns.Meanwhile, the President of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) and lawyer Gajen Ponnambalam met officials of OHCHR last week in Geneva.
The TNPF had been urging the public in the North to submit evidence against the alleged war crimes and human rights violations in Sri Lanka to the UN led team to investigate the matters.
The party launched a document early this month in Tamil with a sample submission form and information sheets encouraging people to forward their submissions.
TNPF also said it would facilitate the public to give evidence to the UN led team.
The process of collecting evidence and testimonials will end next month and OHCHR will submit its final report on the investigations in March next year.