UPR would be the ultimate arbitrator for Sri Lanka

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(March 09, 2012, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) If Sri Lanka manages to thwart UNHRC special sessions’ call for accountability of war crimes it still needs to pass the hurdle at UPR (Universal Periodic Review) of the UN in October 2012 which has more muscle and more direct say in Sri Lanka’s conduct of the war.
US has officially passed a resolution against Sri Lanka and this is not to be scoffed at; attempts by Rajapaksa team in Geneva and elsewhere notwithstanding.
When the fledgling MP Mahinda Rajapaksa visited France many years ago, it was Tamara Kunanayakam who showed him the ropes, was his interpreter and lodged him in her abode. President Rajapakse has not forgotten that.
It is welcoming he still holds a torch to his saviour but it should not be at the expense of sidelining a mature and intellectual External Affairs Minister, Prof. G.L.Peiris, despite his many spats with the President and replacing him with a neophyte special representative to the UN Mahinda Samarasinghe who did not even have the courtesy to table his speech well in time for the President to peruse.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is an apt hand at playing one against the other while exonerating himself from the dismal performances of his emissaries at the current UNHRC special sessions. Kunanayakam was playing to the Sri Lankan gallery and lashing out at senior UN officials disregarding protocol. Mind you, she is no part of UN per se. She is Sri Lanka’s appointee.
GLP although the leader of the Sri Lankan delegation was deliberately sidelined to appease Samarasinghe who made a right fool of himself with errors in war casualty statistics and displaced numbers among others, is muscling in his highest diplomacy in canvassing African votes and he has an uphill task trying to muster support and evidence on why the government chose an all-out offensive against the LTTE with scant disregard for civilians whose lives were laid on the line in wiping out terrorism.
The dead cannot speak ergo cannot be held accountable for war crimes. But state terrorists are alive and well and Rajapaksas are succouring defectors of the surviving former militant Tamil rebels aka the LTTE and they are being given royal patronage; namely KP, Karuna and Pillayan who held key LTTE leadership.
UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka will be reached at the end of the current sessions on March 23, 2012. More importantly it is Sri Lanka’s turn at the the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) which is held every four years which is October 2012 which would determine whether the government was right in conducting the war to the finish and whether it stands accused of horrendous war crimes.
The earlier review, when Mahinda Samarasinghe as Sri Lanka’s representative presided in 2008 at the start of the government’s latest offensive against the LTTE, made some serious recommendations that Sri Lanka abides by the humanitarian conduct of war in its offensive and to avoid civilian casualties.
Three years on the government failed abysmally to keep its promises as pledged by Samarasinghe.
Channel 4’s airing of an updated version of Killing Fields documentary on March 16, 2012 could not have been better timed. This documentary would further show proof of the ground realities of the war, scant disregard for civilian lives, deliberate bombings of civilian and protected targets such as hospitals, churches and schools, rape and murder of civilians held captive by the government forces, massacring of surrendering LTTE cadres with the direct blessings of Defence Minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
This documentary is well ahead of the resolution UNHRC would take on March 23, 2012.
The UNSG commissioned panel report observed the local mechanism set up to inquire into the government’s conduct of the war, the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission), failed to address serious violations of humanitarian laws and in fact failed to hear witnesses who were present in Wanni and who suffered in the offensive.
The Universal Periodic Review “has great potential to promote and protect human rights in the darkest corners of the world,”UN Secretary-General had pointed out.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.
The UPR had 112 recommendations for Sri Lanka in 2008.
When all is said and done Sri Lanka has presented its case to the world through world media, public demonstrations all over the world for the last four years, UN, INGOs and key Western countries who have conducted their own missions in fact-finding. The truth is out there and is there for all to see? What is left there to wait for justice to be meted out? Even India has to toe majority line because it knows the truth in that it was directly complicit in the country’s civil war assisting the government when it it suits its interests and supporting and training Tamil rebels to keep the government on its toes.
But most of all civilians in the North and South can no longer afford the government’s show-case development projects and building highways for easy access to the comfortable middle class to take their SUV’s on the road to building businesses in the North and East while they are still languishing in poverty, constant panic and fear from being abducted by government supported terror groups including military and politicians. The immediate measure is to force the government to disband this terror group and remove the army once and for all from the North and South.

Source: taken from UN website

The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com)

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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