COLOMBO: In the context of the on-going proceedings of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at Geneva, in which Sri Lanka is facing charges of committing war crimes especially in the last phase of the 2006-2009 Eelam War IV, the US-based Oakland Institute has urged Lanka to sign the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Over 50 eminent people have signed a petition drafted by Oakland Institute Executive Director, Anuradha Mittal, asking Lanka to sign the Rome Statute; set up an independent judicial process under UN auspices; apply international laws to crimes against humanity and genocide; and consult victims before finalising mechanisms to investigate and adjudicate on war crimes.
The signatories asked the UN to appoint the majority of investigators, prosecutors and judges in the judicial mechanisms to be set up.
Justifying their demands, they said that the government which took over after the exit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, did not curb the power of the military or effect any significant changes in the conditions faced by the Tamils in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Meanwhile, the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils expressed opposing views on the speech of Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the UNHRC on Monday. Political columnist Dayan Jayatilleka described Colombo’s acceptance of international assistance as a “laceration” of Lanka’s sovereignty. He wondered if the Truth Commission would lead to punitive action and not just be a “cathartic” exercise as in South Africa.
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader Suresh Premachandran said that Lanka has no anti-war crimes law with retrospective effect to prosecute offenders, nor does it have a witness protection law. He felt that the Buddhist clergy and Sinhalese leaders would never allow the armed forces to be proceeded against. The picture that Minister Samaraweera presented was pretty, but the Tamils are not sure if it will be so when the details are revealed, Premachandran said.