UN urges S Lanka to rein in mil­i­tary, pros­e­cute war crimes

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

GENEVA—Sri Lanka must rein in its mil­i­tary forces, pros­e­cute war crimes com­mit­ted dur­ing the long civil war with Tamil rebels and win the con­fi­dence of the Tamil mi­nor­ity, the United Na­tions said on Tues­day.

Wit­nesses must be pro­tected un­der an ef­fec­tive tran­si­tional jus­tice mech­a­nism that should in­clude in­ter­na­tional judges, the U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hus­sein said in an an­nual re­port.

The mil­i­tary and Tamil Tiger rebels who were fight­ing for an in­de­pen­dent Tamil state in the north and east of the In­dian Ocean is­land - are both likely to have com­mit­ted war crimes dur­ing the 26-year con­flict that ended in 2009, the U.N. said last year.

Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena’s gov­ern­ment, formed in March 2015, has “con­sol­i­dated its po­si­tion, cre­at­ing a po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive to reforms”, but gov­er­nance re­form and tran­si­tional jus­tice had lagged, the re­port said.

“The early mo­men­tum es­tab­lished in in­ves­ti­gat­ing em­blem­atic cases must be sus­tained, as early suc­cess­ful pros­e­cu­tions would mark a turn­ing point from the im­punity of the past,” it said.

“Con­tin­u­ing al­le­ga­tions of ar­bi­trary ar­rest, tor­ture and sex­ual vi­o­lence, as well as more gen­eral mil­i­tary sur­veil­lance and ha­rass­ment, must be swiftly ad­dressed, and the struc­tures and in­sti­tu­tional cul­ture that pro­moted those prac­tices be dis­man­tled.”

Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Har­sha de Silva said the for­eign min­is­ter would re­spond on Wed­nes­day.

“But over­all, Zeid’s re­port is pos­i­tive,” he said. Sirisena has said that for­eign par­tic­i­pa­tion is not needed for an im­par­tial in­quiry. Many Sri Lankans op­pose for­eign in­volve­ment and sup­port­ers of for­mer Pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa be­lieve that U.N. ef­forts aim to pun­ish the mil­i­tary un­fairly.

The U.N. Hu­man Rights Coun­cil will de­bate Zeid’s re­port on Wed­nes­day when the gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to come un­der fresh pres­sure to com­mit to pros­e­cut­ing per­pe­tra­tors.

Sri Lanka ac­knowl­edged this month for the first time that some 65,000 peo­ple were miss­ing from the war.

The United Na­tions and ac­tivists have long urged jus­tice for the fam­i­lies of those who dis­ap­peared, in­clud­ing those al­leged to have been se­cretly ab­ducted by state­backed groups and para­mil­i­tary out­fits.

At least 250 security de­tainees were still be­ing held un­der the Pre­ven­tion of Ter­ror­ism Act, the U.N. re­port said, not­ing that Zeid had urged the gov­ern­ment dur­ing a visit last Septem­ber to quickly charge or re­lease them.

The re­port voiced con­cerns over “mil­i­tary en­gage­ment in com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing farm­ing and tourism” and ag­gres­sive cam­paigns in so­cial me­dia that it said “stoke na­tion­al­ism against eth­nic, re­li­gious and other mi­nori­ties”.—Reuters

IS­LAM­ABAD: Afghan Am­bas­sador Dr Omar Zakhilwal meet­ing with Pakistan Tehreek-e-In­saf Chair­man Im­ran Khan.

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