Judgement day for Sri Lanka and its War Victims
by Thambu Kanagasabai, LLM London, Former Lecturer in Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, December 25, 2020
The forthcoming 46th UNHRC Sessions in February/March 2021 holds the key to uphold accountability, justice and human rights in Sri Lanka while halting Sri Lanka’s history of evasions and denials of its obligations to comply with and implement the recommendations in the 30/1 of 2015, 34/1 of 2017 and 40/1 of 2019 Resolutions. It has so far successfully resorted to devalue and delay the implementation hoping that the recommendations would become stale and pale with the passage of time. The present dynastic rule of Rajapakshas who are the architects of alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity etc. has declared their rejection and withdrawal from these Resolutions hoping that this move would provide the shield to shut out culpability and provide the impunity for the alleged commission of those war crimes, crimes against humanity etc. by the Sri Lankan security forces while functioning as Commanders of the genocidal war from 2006-2009.
The Rajapakshas’ Command Responsibility is unshakable and unassailable as there is no impunity for those crimes in the books of International Human Rights Law or in the Charters of UN or UNHRC who are the protectors of human rights whenever and wherever they are defied and breached. In this respect, their steps to investigate allegations of human rights violations in Sudan, Israel, Cambodia, Myanmar, Kosovo and East Tumor are laudable.
The Government run by the Rajapakshas’ clan by their conduct during the ‘KILL ALL’ genocidal war from 2006-2009 has dealt striking blows to the sustainment of human rights and its enjoyment by a citizen wherever he lives. The present Government has now dismissed the UNHRC and its Recommendations with contempt and arrogance while creating a dangerous precedent for other rogue nations to indulge in committing human rights violations without accountability.
It therefore befalls on the UNHRC, UN and International Community to take cognisance of Sri Lanka’s high handed and deplorable steps and initiate appropriate measures to rein in Sri Lanka to behave as a responsible member of the United Nations and comply with its provisions and implement its commitments as pledged.
In this respect, UNHRC shoulders the responsibility to pass a further Resolution in the forthcoming UNHRC 46th Session not only for a dressing down of Sri Lanka but above all to ensure and fortify the application of human rights, accountability, justice and rule of law among the United Nations and UNHRC members.
There is no inkling of doubt that Sri Lanka’s daring and contemptuous attitude needs to be addressed by the UNHRC in a fitting and stronger manner. It becomes therefore absolutely necessary to pass a Resolution against Sri Lanka not merely to show the correct path to Sri Lanka to treat all its citizen equally without any discrimination based on race, language and religion.
The following dismal record of Sri Lanka in this respect particularly with its discriminatory treatment of minorities, Tamils and Muslims has to be reversed and remedied by a strong and punitive UNHRC Resolution. Viewing the open challenge made by the Foreign Minister directed against the UNHRC and the Tamil political parties by stating that UNHRC Resolutions are already dead and no more valid and Sri Lanka cannot be threatened by anyone, it is all the more imperative for the UNHRC and United Nations to act decisively and firmly against Sri Lanka by passing a Resolution requesting United Nations and Security Council to consider the following measures against Sri Lanka, not only to uphold accountability and justice for the war victims but to fortify, preserve and entrench the enjoyment, sustainment and enforcement of human rights among nations which have subscribed to the United Nations and UNHRC Charters.
It is therefore suggested that UNHRC considers the following recommendations in its final Resolution without granting any further extension to Sri Lanka as Sri Lanka has flatly and squarely declared its refusal and rejection of the UNHRC’s role and its Resolutions.
- Setting up of an Independent International Investigation by the United Nations.
- Referring Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court by the UN Security Council
- Recommending the application of Universal Jurisdiction and Magnitsky sanctions by countries which have subscribed to it.
- Individual countries and or groups of countries like European Union, African Union to consider taking economic/diplomatic and political sanctions.
- Initiating an international mechanism through an United Nations office in the North and East of Sri Lanka to monitor the Human Rights practice of the Government and its Security Forces.
Very strong measures have thus become urgent and necessary due to serious human rights violations that have been unleashed recently against the minorities, Tamils and Muslims. Government initiated forced land seizure by Security Forces in the North and East are being carried out overtly and covertly to expedite the agenda of SINHALISISATION AND BUDDHISISATION.
Recently the Muslims have been denied their basic religious rights and the practice of burial of the dead and ordered to cremate their dead by legislation which is a violation of UN Charter and Human Rights Law. Sri Lanka is thus, claiming the first and only country to be ranked in the world to prohibit a religious practice by law and insulting the Muslims and their religion practiced all over the world by about 1.8 billion or 24% of the world population.
Sri Lanka’s record of human rights violations, Commissions of war crimes and crimes against humanity etc. which amount to genocide is an open book reported and recorded by United Nations, UNHRC, Human Rights Organizations and Human Rights Activists all over the world.
Therefore an urgent action is needed by the co-members of the UNHRC and the Core-sponsors of UNHRC Resolutions 30/1 of 2015 and 40/1 of 2019, particularly United Kingdom who is the bastion of human rights to right the historical wrongs and deliver the deserving punishment for the violators of human rights and provide the solace, relief, remedies and justice to the victims of genocidal killings and human rights violations which commenced from 1956 pogrom against the Tamils and is still continuing under a dynastic and dictatorial rule.
It has to be stated that China’s open declaration of support and its promise to protect Sri Lanka in any international bodies like the United Nations and UNHRC has emboldened Sri Lanka and it will be foolhardy to expect Sri Lanka to deliver justice and accountability for the affected war victims.
In this respect, it is relevant to quote the United Kingdom’s Shadow Minister for Asia Hon. Stephen Kinnock who in his letter to his Government expressed and warned about the alarming threats to democratic governance, rule of law and human rights and has asked for applying MAGNITSKY sanctions against Sri Lanka’s human rights violations.