By Veluppillai Thangavelu –April 8, 2017
President Sirisena Is Repudiating His Own Promise Not to Allow the January 8th Revolution Revoked
The curtain fell on United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 34th sessions on March 24th, 2017. On the previous day the UNHRC adopted a consensus resolution 34/1 on Sri Lanka without a vote. The resolution 34/1 gave Sri Lanka 2 more years to fulfil its commitments for reconciliation and transnational justice.
Resolution 34/1 in effect is a roll-over which asked Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to implement UNHRC resolution 30/1, and the need for further significant progress. The Council identified many measures that are still outstanding;
Earlier, during the Interactive Dialogue, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed concern over Sri Lanka’s slow progress in establishing transitional justice mechanisms to address accountability and emphasized the need of an agreement on a comprehensive strategy, with a time-line and detailed benchmarks, to address all the transitional justice pillars identified in resolution 30/1 of 2015, which was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, calling for “full implementation”.
Resolution 34/1 requested the Office of the High Commissioner (OHC) and relevant special procedure mandate holders, in consultation with and with the concurrence of the GoSL, to strengthen their advice and technical assistance on the promotion and protection of human rights and truth, justice, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. The resolution also requested the OHC to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, and to present a written update to the Human Rights Council (HRC) at its 37th session, and a comprehensive report, followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1, at its 40th session. Thus, Sri Lanka has been given a further period of two years to implement resolution 30/1.
Tamil Diaspora groups expressed opposition to give any extension to Sri Lanka, but to refer Sri Lanka to the UN General Assembly/UNSC. Referring Sri Lanka as suggested is not easy. Even if a majority of countries vote for a resolution, it is not binding on the UNSC. The General Assembly has a total of 193 countries and not one member is likely to move a resolution against Sri Lanka.
Further more, if UN Assembly is approached, then the process in UNHRC comes to a halt. The High Commissioner will cease to submit any reports on Sri Lanka as stated in resolution 34/1. Generally speaking to take a country to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that country must be a global threat to peace and security.
Obviously, Sri Lanka is not a country threatening peace and security. The only cases now before the UNSG based on threat to peace and security is Libya and Sudan. North Korea is one country that is issuing threats to neighbouring countries, including US. It is threatening an all out nuclear war with the US and claims its deadly inter-continental missiles can hit US and kill millions. Japan is calling for new laws to allow Tokyo to launch pre-emptive strikes against an increasingly aggressive North Korea.
When the maverick Republican nominee Donald Trump triumphed at the polls to emerge as the US 45 th President many thought he will go easy with troubles in small countries like Sri Lanka. To confirm such speculation President Trump has proposed cutting funds for State Department by 30% while increasing defence spending by another US$ 64 billion taking the total to US$ 610 billion. Second place China’s defence budget is just US$ 216.4 billion.
As soon as Donald Trump won the election, President Maithripala Sirisena told SLFP membership in Galle on November 28, 2016 that he will write to Trump asking his administration to drop the war crime allegations against Sri Lanka. “I will write to President Donald Trump to ask him to free us from these accusations, I was able to save the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and our valiant soldiers by giving the UNHRC the necessary messages.” Sirisena was referring to the leniency shown by the US and the international community after he came to power in January 2015.
July 8, 2016 (Panadura) – President asserts he will not agree to foreign judges