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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka Accused at United Nations > UN Human Rights Council - Seventh Session, March 2008 >
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Seventh Session - March 2008
Statement by Visuvalingam Kirupaharan, Interfaith International, Ecosoc accredited NGO, Geneva, Switzerland under item – 4 Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention, 14 March 2008
The General Assembly resolution 60/251 emphasizes the responsibilities of all States, in conformity with the Charter, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language or religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
As one of the important pillars of the Human Rights Council, agenda item-4 permits members of civil society to raise their concerns regarding situations around the world.
Having carefully considered this available mechanism, Interfaith International would like to bring to the attention of this august forum, the UN documented facts regarding the grave and worsening situation in Sri Lanka.
Mr President, careful perusal of the records of incidents in Sri Lanka, registered within the last two decades in the UN Human rights forums and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights – OHCHR, may well elicit the question “Why is the world silent about these realities?”. The world is less silent when it comes to unjustifiable arguments on Sri Lanka.
Several special rapporteurs have visited Sri Lanka and in the meantime the treaty bodies (HRC, CEDAW, CERD and CAT) have compiled their factual reports on Sri Lanka. The references to some of those reports are given below.
Also in the recent past, many special representatives of the UN Secretary General (on IDPs, on the Humanitarian situation, on Children in armed conflict and the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the United Nations) have undertaken field visits. Some have returned as “Terrorist supporters”, because they stated factual observations of the prevailing situation in Sri Lanka. Also it is to be noted that many UN dignitaries including the High Commissioner for Human Rights were not allowed to visit the conflict areas to find out the stark on-going realities.
The humanitarian situation in the conflict areas is really
worsening and the plight of the innocent people including women
and children is a matter of gravest concern. Impunity continues
to prevail in Sri Lanka.
Mr President, The government controlled areas in the North East are virtually under military rule. The soldiers and paramilitary forces are the decision-makers of day to day activities in the lives of local citizens. The civil administration is paralysed in the North East, under the pretext of enforcement of the Emergency Regulations and the PTA.
Human rights defenders – Lawyers, parliamentarians, academics, social workers and others are killed by so called unknown gunmen in Sri Lanka. Even last week, a Tamil parliamentarian was killed in a Claymore attack carried out by the Sri Lanka Army Deep Penetration Unit.
However, until today no proper investigations have been carried out on any of the killings of human rights defenders, despite many clues about the culprits of these cold blooded murders. Although there have been many statements by government officials and Police investigators that the killers have been identified, these statements are considered to be routine and disseminated to deflect the concerns and the scrutiny of the outside world.
Since January 2006 - 62 humanitarian workers have been killed in Sri Lanka. Many NGOs who bring the facts to the outside world are under severe pressure from the Sri Lankan government.
Mr President, Last week, on 6th March, the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons – IIGEP quit Sri Lanka after issuing several exhaustive press releases. President Rajapaksa had invited the IIGEP to observe and ensure the transparency of investigations held by the Commission of Inquiries on the complaints of abductions, disappearances and other serious violations of human rights arising since 1st August 2005. Also the IIGEP was to ensure that those inquires are conducted in accordance with basic international norms and standards.
Even though Sri Lanka is signatory to the ICCPR, on 15 September 2006, the Supreme Court effectively ruled that Sri Lankan citizens cannot seek remedy from the UN Human Rights Committee regarding human rights violations. It declared that the accession to the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1997 does not bind Sri Lanka and has no legal effect within the island - Nallaratnam Singarasa vs The Attorney-General – Decision of the Supreme Court 15 September 2006 – SC Spl (LA) No 182/99.
Last January, Sri Lanka arbitrarily withdrew from the Ceasefire Agreement-CFA that was signed between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE in February 2002. As a consequence of its withdrawal, the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, which consists of members from Nordic countries to supervise the violations of the CFA, has also quit Sri Lanka. Now war continues without any international witnesses. The situation in Sri Lanka is going from bad to worse.
Therefore, Mr President, we urgently appeal to you and other distinguished delegates to seriously consider all available mechanisms to ensure rigorous and timely international scrutiny on Sri Lanka. It may be too little, too late, but better late than never. Another Rwanda is emerging in Asia!
Thank you Mr President.