Examination of fresh info: Commitment received from Geneva- Naval veteran

by Shamindra Ferdinando


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has assured that a report titled ‘A factual appraisal of the OISL report: A rebuttal to the allegations against the armed forces’, too, would be examined.

Thomas Hunecke, human rights officer, Asia-Pacific section has informed retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera and Sunil Chandrakumara of the Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF) of their decision to accept the report. Weerasekera yesterday told The Island that they were really glad the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recognised the report.

Weerasekera and Chandrakumara handed over a copy of the report to Hunecke on the side lines of the 34th human rights council session in March 2017. Hunecke, in a letter dated June 6, addressed to Weerasekera and Chandrakumara said that all information provided by civil society organizations would be considered by the OHCHR to widen its knowledge about the situation in Sri Lanka. Weerasekera represented International Buddhist Relief Organization at the meeting with OHCHR representative after the civil society organization which was to facilitate the naval veteran’s Geneva project withdrew its support.

In addition to that report Weerasekara handed over several documents including the Second Mandate report of the Paranagama commission.

The submitted reports had been endorsed by wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and a panel of senior retired military officers.

A spokesperson for the UN mission in Colombo told The Island recently that it received ‘A factual appraisal of the OISL report: A rebuttal to the allegations against the armed forces’ from the Federation of National Organizations (FNO) had been submitted to OHCHR and the UN.

The FNO submitted a copy of the report to the UN mission in Colombo on March 20. A UN official accepted the report on behalf of the UN Resident Representative Una McCauley.

The FNO wanted McCauley to forward the report to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The OHCHR has written to Weerasekera and Chandrakumara in the wake of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe having met Guterres in New York.

Rear Admiral Weerasekera told The Island that before taking up the Geneva issue with the UN, the FNO requested President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of armed forces to commission an ‘official assessment’ on OISL (OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka). Weerasekera, who had been UPFA MP for Digamadulla during the Rajapaksa administration, regretted that the yahapalana government co-sponsored a resolution recently to secure a two year period for it to fulfil obligations in terms of Geneva Resolution 30/1.

Weerasekera flayed President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe for accepting a resolution calling for foreign judges in the proposed judicial mechanism in line with Geneva Resolution of Oct. 2015, Sri Lanka has reiterated her acceptance of foreign judges again in March this year, the naval veteran said. Weerasekera urged the OHCHR to review UN strategy on Sri Lanka.

The Rear Admiral requested the UNGA to assign a Special Rapporteur to inquire into Geneva intervention, impose a moratorium on the UNHRC from pursuing the resolution any further until the completion of the inquiry.

Weerasekara said that they really appreciated the commitment received from Geneva to examine the information/evidence made available recently.

Weerasekara said that civil society organizations had never made representations on behalf of the country. He and Dr Wasantha Bandara of the FNO alleged that the yahapalana government twice co-sponsored resolutions moved against the country in Geneva in October 2015 and March 2017.

Dr Bandara flayed the ruling coalition for not submitting the Second Mandate report of the Pranagama Commision as well as other expert reports to OHCHR in spite of their repeated appeals. Referring to recent media reports pertaining to new Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake meeting Indian Defence Advisor Ajit Doval, Dr Bandara said that the government should review developments with all countries concerned and particularly with India.

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