By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Tamil Diaspora representatives and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs will meet UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in Geneva, prior to his oral presentation at the 11 to 27 June Sessions of the UNHRC.
Sri Lanka faces crucial times in Geneva this month where mammoth Tamil Diaspora-backed rallies alleging delayed justice and prolongation of injustices to the Tamils will come against the Lankan delegation to that meeting. Boosting that demonstration will be members of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) including its Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP) – an independent investigative body of eminent war crime prosecutors who will be meeting Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein prior to his oral presentation. Zaid is expected to keep to specifics and release a statement on the progress made by the SL Government, or on the lack thereof.
Ceylon Today learns that the Tamil Diaspora which has lost faith in its leadership will demand justice at an anticipated mammoth rally outside the venue of the Geneva Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group meeting on Sri Lanka. Several print and news websites in the West have been carrying advertisements urging Tamils to converge on Geneva “if you want to seek justice for Sri Lankan Tamils.”
The Tamil National Alliance is meanwhile, hoping to have talks with Zeid prior to the UNHRC review on Sri Lanka. Foreign Ministry sources said External Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera will be attending the session. It was unclear whether a Foreign Ministry delegation will accompany the minister.
The MAP comprises legal experts in international criminal law and human rights, national war crimes Courts and regional criminal cases. Panel Members Marie Guiraud (France), Peter Haynes QC (UK), Richard J.Rogers (UK), Heather Ryan (USA), Justice Ajit Prakash Shah (India) and Geoffrey Robertson QC will meet Zeid and present their findings.
At a recent event held at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, an MAP member, Peter Haynes QC, an internationally renowned legal expert, stated that the absence of a proposed legislative framework of a Special Court in Sri Lanka was remarkable. He said some ‘baby steps’ were taken, notably the creation of the Task Force and Witness Protection Act, but these steps are not enough and not soon enough.
The June Session will release a hard copy of the Oral report by the High Commissioner. The report will serve as a statement indicating interim steps to monitor the progress of the Resolution. The final report by the High Commissioner will be made in March 2017.
Global Tamil Forum Spokesman Suren Surendiran said “The Government of Sri Lanka has committed itself to the UNHRC resolution by co-sponsoring it in Geneva back in September 2015. What that international commitment means is that the Government of Sri Lanka including the President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, the Cabinet of Ministers and the people of Sri Lanka have accepted the resolution in letter and spirit in its entirety. That co-sponsored and internationally binding commitment, cannot be violated in any manner by either the President or Prime Minister.
MP Sampanthan recently told UN Ambassador Samantha Power when she visited Sri Lanka a few weeks ago that the UNHRC resolution must be fully implemented. She reiterated that “nothing less than what has been specified in the UNHRC resolution will be acceptable to the Tamil people and more so to the victims.
“The GTF will stand firm in all international forums including the UNHRC and in Sri Lanka demanding that justice must be delivered to the victims of the war. We want the Government of Sri Lanka to honour its international commitments and not try to creep out of it,” he added.