Thursday, April 15, 2021

What accountability, transparency at UNHRC?

The UNHRC is an intergovernmental organisation, reporting directly to the United Nations General Assembly, with a mandate to promote and protect human rights in member countries, by making recommendations to address situations of human rights violations. It is to be expected that institutions that have authority to make recommendations, in particular, on the contravention of legal compliance, need to be free from bias, in order to be acceptable to the alleged erring parties. In fact, the Terms of Reference for OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) proclaims the investigation needs to be guided by principles of `independence, impartiality, objectivity, transparency and integrity’, and has mandated the investigations to cover violations of human rights and other related crimes by ‘both parties’, meaning the Sri Lankan Govt. and the LTTE, over the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which was from 21 February, 2002, to 19 May, 2009.

The UNHRC resolution, against Sri Lanka, is a bad example, where the reporting agency has not demonstrated, to its members, or the alleged offenders, that the processes followed were free from bias, and were based on proven evidence. In fact, the High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet’s report of 27 January, 2021, was more of an alarmist expression of the newly elected Sri Lankan Government’s administrative appointments and COVID-19 burials, rather than explaining reasons for the failure of UNHRC resolutions in Sri Lanka.

Obviously, Bachelet has failed to see the causes of the annihilating defeat of the previous regime that co-sponsored UNHRC 30/1 resolution, at the 2019 Sri Lankan elections. She didn’t even note reasons for the recent withdrawal from 30/1; the rehabilitation of 300,000 Tamil civilians rescued from the LTTE human shield, development projects instituted in the North and the East to resurrect the economy, changes in the demographics in Colombo, where business is dominated by the so- called discriminated Tamils and Muslims, continuous religious and racial harmony among the civilian population, during and after the war; demonstrations of Tamil civilians against the LTTE proxy parties that has misled the West and UNHRC by propagating misinformation of racial abuse.

Bachelet has also failed to see the bias instituted in the UNHRC investigative process, due to the dependence on politically motivated complainants and co-sponsors, deliberate suppression of wartime official diplomatic cables, non- acceptance of humanitarian agency reports, such as that of the Red Cross, non- investigation of LTTE terrorist crimes; restriction of the mandated period of the investigation to the war-end incidents, which contravened the original mandate and non-release of so called evidence of war crimes for 30 years.

Also, Bachelet has failed to see that the Geneva debate is lopsided with a proliferation of pro-LTTE propaganda, although the Sri Lankan Govt., Lord Naseby, and many others, have highlighted the deficiencies of the Commissioner’s report. In fact, the Bachelet report, presented to the UNHRC member vote, is a hurriedly written document, confirming the views expressed in the last 10-year period, without any analysis of the developments that had taken place for the reconciliation efforts instituted by the Sri Lankan Govt.

It is also a crying shame that a state, like the United Kingdom, which had committed many atrocities in the world — including the biggest genocide in separating India and Pakistan, as well as a co-sponsor in annihilating the Middle Eastern countries, with spurious weapons of mass destruction allegations – is leading the UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka!

It is a no brainer that the UNHRC investigation on Sri Lanka was doomed to be a failure from the beginning, because of the politicisation of the process undertaken. In fact, the investigation has discouraged Tamil parties to cooperate with Government reconciliation efforts, as they were engaging with the West and UNHCR to create a separate Eelam state, within the small independent sovereign State of Sri Lanka, the failed dream of the LTTE, with UNHRC intervention. The Sri Lankan Govt. and its people are tired with the 30-year terrorist war and 10 years of so called independent investigation, and are keen to find its own all-inclusive solution that is acceptable to the norms of a rational ethical country. To this end, Sri Lankans are hopeful the UNHRC member States would vote against the UNCHR resolution, and save themselves from being forced into biased vendettas for political reasons .

JANAKI CHANDRARATNA
Source: island.lk

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