COLOMBO: R.Sampanthan, the top most leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), has said that the party can take an official stand on the latest US policy on the mechanism to investigate charges of war crimes in Sri Lanka, only after reading the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Written by Sandra Beidas under the supervision of Martti Ahtisaari, Asma Jahangir and Sylvia Cartwright, the OHCHR report is to be presented to the Lankan government soon, for its comments. Along with these comments, the report will be submitted to the UNHRC in the second half of September.
If the report is hard hitting, the TNA could press for a full-fledged international investigation or a stricter international monitoring of any domestic Lankan inquiry mechanism. The US itself has said that its resolution on Lanka will take into account the findings and recommendations of the OHCHR report.
The US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Nisha Biswal’s declaration in Colombo last week that the US will support a domestic mechanism, did not signify departure from previous policy, Sampanthan said.
“The US has always talked about a domestic investigation and an international investigation,” he pointed out.
It was only in the March 2014 UNHRC resolution that an international inquiry was sought. But here again, there had been a provision for a parallel domestic inquiry.
Like the US, the TNA is willing to give the new Lankan government under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a chance to move away from the intransigence of the earlier Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.
Sampanthan said that a number of problems of the war-affected Tamils are being addressed. The new leadership is engaged even on the knotty issue of devolution of power, he added.
The TNA chief recalled that in Rajapaksa’s time, inquiry commissions would be set up and foreign monitors appointed, but only to be rendered ineffective. The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) headed by Justice P.N.Bhagwati of India disengaged from the Udalagama Commission inquiring into six major cases of rights violations saying that government had no will to conduct a proper investigation.