General Debate on the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka
Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss MPThank You Mr.President
This is Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, Member of Parliament and former Health Minister, Government of India welcoming the OISL report on behalf of Pasumai Thaayagam.
I speak on behalf of the seventy-seven million people of Tamil Nadu in India, who are concerned about the welfare, rights and dignity of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.We thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their strong and comprehensive report on the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during and after the war in Sri Lanka. As High Commissioner stated in his report, that for “accountability to be achieved in Sri Lanka, more than a domestic mechanism is needed”.
The report adequately deals with serious charges or War Crimes and Crimes against humanity and comprises of dedicated sections on
· Unlawful killings
· Violations related to the deprivation of liberty
· Enforced disappearance
· Torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
· Sexual and gender-based violence
· Abduction of adults and forced recruitment
· Recruitment and use of children in hostilities
· The impact of hostilities on civilians and civilian objects
· Controls on movement
· Denial of humanitarian assistance
· Screening and deprivation of liberty of internally displaced persons in closed camps.
Sri Lanka has categorically stated that only a domestic mechanism would be allowed. This is a challenge thrown at the OISL report needing a proper response, keeping in mind the inadequate joint resolution tabled is not fulfilling the aspirations of the victims.
Sri Lanka stands accused and it has no moral authority to judge its own crimes. As stated in the report, we note that even the new government did not allow the OISL team to visit Sri Lanka.
Tamils still languish as Internally Displaced Persons. Army camps are located in Tamil villages. Land grabbed from the Tamils are yet to be returned. Rape and torture continue, and Tamil people still live in fear. The High Security Zones remain.
We also bring to your attention the resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu State Assembly in India on September 16, 2015, that called on India to move a ‘strong resolution’ at the UNHRC seeking an international probe against Sri Lankan government’s human rights violations and war crimes.
The silence of the Government of India to the pleas of the people of Tamil Nadu, for demanding an International Inquiry, is highly disappointing.
Pasumai Thaayagam urges UNHRC to set up offices in the North and East of Sri Lanka to give adequate witness protection.
We call upon the international community to establish an international judicial process and an accountability mechanism, to ensure credible justice is done in Sri Lanka.
Oral statement by Pasumai ThaayagamUNHRC 30th Session28 September 2015
Pasumai Thaayagam would like to thank the Office of the High Commissioner for its Investigation on Sri Lanka and landmark OISL report. The report is a compendium of evidence, conclusions, and recommendations that can only assist Sri Lanka’s communities on the road to justice and reconciliation.
We also thank the core group that tabled this session’s resolution to promote reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka. Tamil victims on the ground and in diaspora await implementation to gauge progress in satisfying the Government’s commitments. We expect to see substantial international involvement in the accountability process, since the High Commissioner “remains convinced that for accountability to be achieved in Sri Lanka, it will require more than a domestic mechanism.”
We call on all member states to vigorously assist Sri Lanka in setting up an accountability process that is credible to the mostly Tamil victims of mass atrocities, who must have confidence in the mechanism for it to function. The need for witness and victim protection cannot be overstated, particularly when the OISL report identifies numerous failures in the country’s witness and victim protection law.
Tamil civilians in the North are still subjected to a highly militarized climate in which there is 1 army member for every 6 civilians. Many Tamil families are still waiting to learn whether their disappeared loved ones are dead or in detention. Arrests under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, listed for review and repeal in the resolution, continue to this day, as do torture and sexual violence by the military.
We urge the Council’s member states to remain vigilant to ensure that the resolution on Sri Lanka is implemented effectively and that victims and witnesses need not fear for their safety in participating in a process of accountability.
30th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
September 17th, 2015
Item 3 – General Debate
Dear Mr. President,
Pasumai Thaayagam would like to take this opportunity to thank the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, Pablo de Greiff, for his report to the Human Rights Council earlier this week. We welcome his strong recommendations about the kinds of measures Sri Lanka must undertake to achieve sustainable peace. These recommendations are exactly in line with the recommendations made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in his office’s report on Sri Lanka, released yesterday.
Both reports re-iterated that the Sri Lankan government, for good reason, lacks the basic trust of the predominantly Tamil war-affected population, and without such trust, any domestic accountability mechanism would lack credibility and meaning. As stated by the Special Rapporteur, this lack of trust was created in part by a history of failed initiatives, systemic and institutional deficiencies resulting from entrenched discrimination against Tamils, a repressive regime, and the 30-year conflict.
Pasumai Thaayagam welcomes the call from the Special Rapporteur for Sri Lanka to develop a comprehensive transitional justice strategy while taking immediate action on pressing ongoing human rights violations. We submit that an appropriate transitional justice strategy is defined by the recommendations set out in the High Commissioner’s report.
Pasumai Thaayagam therefore calls upon members of the Human Rights Council to pass a resolution that adopts the recommendations of the High Commissioner, guarantees strict timelines for progress to be made and ensures that Sri Lanka remains an item on the international agenda. Any accountability process must have significant international involvement including at minimum: having a majority of the judges, prosecutors and investigators appointed from outside Sri Lanka; using international law; and having an independent and internationally overseen witness and victim protection scheme. A domestic process is unacceptable and unfit to address the grievances of the Tamil people.
The Human Rights Council stands at a critical juncture with respect to Sri Lanka, and it is imperative that they don’t fail victims and communities now. It is for the above noted reasons that Pasumai Thaayagam continues our call for an international accountability mechanism in Sri Lanka.