Lankan government told to accept ICC norms
By P K Balachandran | ENS | Published: 04th November 2012 10:21 AM |
Some countries in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) have urged Sri Lanka to sign the Rome Statute of 1998, which had set up the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC could go into allegations of genocide, war crimes, international crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The suggestion was contained in submissions made at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Sri Lanka’s rights record at UNHRC in Geneva on Thursday.
The suggestion followed criticism of Colombo’s seeming reluctance to investigate alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (war crimes) in the last stages of the war against the Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009.
Between 2009 and 2011, there were persistent attempts by the West, led by the US, UK, France and Germany, to highlight the war crimes allegedly committed by the Sri Lankan military and to get them investigated by a neutral international body. That demand has now yielded place to the suggestion that Lanka sign the Rome Statute and accept the jurisdiction of the ICC.
Among the countries which specifically sought accession to the Rome Statue were Sweden, Austria, Slovakia and Estonia.
Many countries mentioned the problem of disappearances, torture, and bad treatment of detainees, besides attacks on human rights defenders, journalists and legal professionals, and the intrusiveness of the Lankan military’s presence in the Tamil areas of North Sri Lanka. But they did not say that Lanka should sign the Rome Statute. Among these countries were the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland and South Korea.
Only some countries like India, UK, the United States and Canada, mentioned the need for a political solution based on devolution of power to the Tamil-speaking provinces. Others mentioned only the rights abuses and other deficiencies in governance.
Lanka had its supporters too. Among them were Turkey, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Finland, Indonesia, The Holy See, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nigeria, Romania and South Africa. Malaysia even went to the extent of saying that Lanka should be allowed to solve its problems with “no interference from outsiders.”
The Lankan representative at UNHRC, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said that Colombo had the support of 80 countries.