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UK lawmakers for Tamils seek punitive measures against Sri Lanka

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British barrister elected as the next Chief Prosecutor at the ICC

Elliot Colburn (Conservative Party) on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPGT) has requested the UK government to take tangible measures to establish an evidence gathering mechanism, inquire into the suitability of international accountability mechanisms in respect of Sri Lanka and push for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur.

The UK heads the six-member Sri Lanka Core Group. APPGT has intervened on behalf of the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora in the wake of Lord Naseby, President All Party British-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Group sought to set the record straight as regards war crimes accusations. Lord Naseby made representations to the UNHRC.

The following is the text of letter dated Feb 22 written by Colburn to Dominic Raab MP:

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs: “I write with reference to the draft UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on Sri Lanka published by the United Kingdom on behalf of the Core Group on Sri Lanka.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group, for Tamils (APPGT) is concerned that the draft resolution does not sufficiently support the important recommendations by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that are critical for ensuring progress towards accountability in Sri Lanka.

The UK has always been at the forefront of promoting human rights and international justice around the world, including in Sri Lanka. In 2014 the UK-led international efforts that successfully passed a key resolution in the UN Human Rights Council to promote accountability, justice, and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. That resolution authorised the landmark investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the OHCHR  Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), into human rights abuses in the period 21 February 2002 to 15 November 2011.

The OISL’s report documented mass atrocities and human rights abuses of unspeakable brutality and on an extraordinary scale. Yet, despite repeatedly pledging to ensure accountability, and repeated extensions by UNHRC members of their deadline for doing so, successive Sri Lankan governments have delayed and obfuscated at every turn.

Six years after the OISL report, and 11 years after the end of war in Sri Lanka, it is now time for the UK and the UNHRC member states to put the victims, the so many people who lost their lives, lost loved ones, and were put through unimaginable suffering, at the forefront of international efforts to ensure justice is delivered to them, and without any further delay.

It is therefore crucial that the resolution being tabled by the United Kingdom on behalf of the Core Group on Sri Lanka, provides for concrete steps towards international accountability, in particular ensuring the collection and preserving evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law perpetrated in Sri Lanka, evidence that can facilitate criminal prosecutions via an international judicial process.

To these ends, we urge you to ensure the Resolution when presented to the Council includes:

1. Evidence gathering for the purpose of criminal prosecutions

Establish an ongoing independent mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Sri Lanka between 21 February 2002 until 15 November 2011, and to prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes.

2. International Mechanism

Provide a mandate the Office of the High Commissioner to consider and report on the feasibility and appropriateness of international mechanisms for accountability, in recognition of the fact that Sri Lankan authorities have failed to prosecute alleged perpetrators of serious abuses, which may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The international mechanisms considered should include the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC was established precisely so as to ensure that perpetrators of such heinous crimes do not enjoy impunity because the State in question is unwilling or unable to prosecute them, and the UK can be justifiably proud that a leading British barrister, Karim Khan, has been elected as the next Chief Prosecutor at the ICC.

3. Special Rapporteur

Urge the Council to appoint an individual of recognized international standing and expertise in human rights as Special Rapporteur to investigate and report on human rights situation in Sri Lanka, and on the Sri Lankan Government’s compliance with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law. It is not only past violations and the lack of accountability for those that are concerning for us, but ongoing ones also. The UN High Commissioner’s latest report describes the deterioration in human rights protection in Sri Lanka as alarming and given the Sri Lankan government’s appalling track record, we believe international scrutiny of the situation in the coming months and years should be continuous and ongoing.

We believe the above are essential steps for ensuring accountability for the well-documented heinous international crimes that have taken place, and ongoing human rights abuses, in Sri Lanka. After over a decade of promised yet ultimately denied justice for the victims, we also believe these are the minimal steps that the UK should pursue, if our commitment to human rights, international rule of law, and justice is not to appear hollow, to both the victims and the perpetrators.”



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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