COLOMBO: The US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Nisha Biswal, has said that the US will be moving a resolution on human rights and war crimes in Sri Lanka at the September session of the UN Human Right Council (UNHRC). But the resolution will be drafted in collaboration with the Lankan government, key stakeholders within and outside Lanka, and the international “core group” on Lanka, she added.
Briefing select media here on Wednesday at the end of a two day visit, Biswal said that the US-led “collaborative” resolution will “reflect” on the way forward for Lanka in its bid to address human rights and governance issues.
Biswal said that the US resolution will depend on the findings and recommendations contained in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The US has not seen the report yet, she said.
The US resolution will not only be a “collaborative” one, but will also take into account “changes in the landscape” that had taken place in Lanka in the past year and the “substantial progress” made towards reconciliation in the past few months, Biswal stressed.It will reflect on the way forward for Lanka.
Change in Stand
The U.S had been in the forefront in adopting three resolutions at the UNHRC on Lanka, the last of which in 2014, had called for an international independent investigation into alleged rights abuses and war crimes.
But the US is now “fine” with a credible domestic investigation which will satisfy all stakeholders in Sri Lanka, Biswal said.
Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had made it clear that an international investigation is not possible because Lanka has not signed the Rome Statute to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told Biswal on Tuesday, that the government is in the process of setting up an independent domestic mechanism to go into charges of rights violations.
Promises Won’t Do
However, the more forthright US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Tom Malinowski, said that the credibility of the domestic investigation will be judged not by promises, but by what is delivered.
The drafting of the “collaborative” resolution on Lanka is not going to be easy because there are “important constituencies” both within and outside Lanka which care about what is happening in the island nation, Malinowski said. But he assured that that the resolution will take into account the progress made in the field of reconciliation in the past few months.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which has been insisting on an international investigation, said after meeting Biswal and Malinowski, that it will accept a domestic investigation if it has international participation.
“We cannot get justice if it is purely a Lankan domestic mechanism. It has to be an internationalized investigation. The involvement of international experts is a must. We would also like the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to set up a monitoring unit here,” said M.A. Sumanthiran, TNA MP from Jaffna.