Principal findings of OHCHR report
Posted on October 9th, 2015

By Neville Ladduwahetty Courtesy Island

The fact that the Government did not exploit these internationally accepted provisions to restrict the impact of the OHCHR report, but instead, co-sponsored the resolution on Sri Lanka is to be deeply regretted. Since the findings in the report are not mandatory it may not be too late to reevaluate at least some of the “principal findings” since para. 1115 states that the “findings listed below are analysed primarily within the framework of international human rights law”, when in fact all of the findings should be analysed within the framework of international humanitarian law and the rulings of International Tribunals. Furthermore, even the conclusions reached and the recommendations made should be revisited on the basis of International humanitarian law and rulings by International Tribunals.

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The UN Human Rights Council is mandated to “promote and protect Human Rights for All”. However, the report by OISL for the OHCHR states in paragraph 171that ” OISL has conducted its investigation within the framework of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law”. Considering that the Report’s conclusions and recommendations are based on a remit that goes way beyond lawful mandate, the validity of the report becomes questionable.

Paragraph 182 of the OISL report acknowledges that “Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions relating to conflicts not of an international character is applicable to the situation in Sri Lanka…”. The report thus acknowledges that the conflict in Sri Lanka had reached the internationally recognized threshold of an Armed Conflict. Salient from this categorization are the following:

1. That the applicable law during the course of the Armed Conflict (February 2002 to May 2009) is International Humanitarian Law (IHL), with the ICRC as the accepted custodians of IHL.

2. That all parties to the conflict are “bound equally by the relevant rules of customary international law applicable to non-international armed conflict” (Paragraph 183).

3. That there is derogation of Human Rights depending on the intensity of civil unrest. Such derogation culminates in what is recognized as “hard core” of Human Rights during an Armed Conflict.

An ICRC publication of October 2002 titled “International humanitarian law: answers to your questions” states: “The international instruments contain clauses that authorize States confronted with serious threats to suspend the rights enshrined in them. An exception is made for certain fundamental rights laid down in each treaty, which must be respected in all circumstances and may never be waived regardless of the treaty. In particular, these include the right to life, the prohibition of torture and human punishment or treatment, slavery and servitude, and the principle of legality and non-retroactivity of the law. These fundamental rights that States are bound to respect in all circumstances even in the event of a conflict or disturbance are known as hard core human rights” (p. 37).

The recognition that human rights are derogated during conflicts or disturbances is also reflected in Sri Lanka’s Constitution. Article 15 Clauses 7 and 8 of Chapter III titled FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS states:

(7) “The exercise and operation of all the fundamental rights declared and recognized by Articles 12, 13 (1), 13 (2) and 14 shall be subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed by law in the interest of national security…”

(8) “The exercise and operation of fundamental rights declared and recognized by Articles 12 (1), 13 and 14 shall, in their application to the members of the Armed Forces, Police Force and other Forces charged with maintenance of public order, be subject to such restrictions as may be prescribed by law…”.

The fact that the OISL report ignores recognized restriction of human rights during conflict both nationally and internationally means the conclusions reached and the recommendations made in the report are flawed. Furthermore, the OISL report is critical of the conduct of the Government after hostilities ceased in May 2009, not realizing that the International Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (1995) ruled that “International humanitarian law applies from the initiation of such armed conflicts and extends beyond the cessation of hostilities until…in the case of internal conflicts, a peaceful settlement is reached. Until that moment, international humanitarian law continues to apply in the… whole territory under the control of a party, whether or not actual combat takes place there”.

A further fact that should be borne in mind is that the UN Charter on Human Rights, Article 11, the Constitution of Sri Lanka Article 13 Clause 6, as well as the ICRC ruling cited above recognize the “non-retroactivity of the law” pertaining to innocence/guilt regarding offences.

The fact that the Government did not exploit these internationally accepted provisions to restrict the impact of the OHCHR report, but instead, co-sponsored the resolution on Sri Lanka is to be deeply regretted. Since the findings in the report are not mandatory it may not be too late to reevaluate at least some of the “principal findings” since para. 1115 states that the “findings listed below are analysed primarily within the framework of international human rights law”, when in fact all of the findings should be analysed within the framework of international humanitarian law and the rulings of International Tribunals. Furthermore, even the conclusions reached and the recommendations made should be revisited on the basis of International humanitarian law and rulings by International Tribunals.

COMMENT on RECOMMENDATIONS

In addition the Government should seek exemption of recommendations that impact on the internal affairs of a sovereign State on grounds of non-intervention. For instance, general recommendations and those pertaining to Institutional reforms and in particular those relating to Justice are a clear intrusion into the internal affairs of a sovereign State in complete violation of Article 2 Clause 7 of the UN Charter.

This Article states:

“Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter…”

Therefore, the Government is on solid ground to request the OHCHR to revisit those recommendations that are “essentially within the domestic jurisdiction” of Sri Lanka. If the Government fails to address this issue, in particular aspects relating to the section on justice, there is a possibility that the public could lose confidence in the rulings of Courts and Sri Lanka’s judicial system.

CONCLUSION

The OISL Report reveals that the OHCHR has achieved two major objectives at the expense of Sri Lanka.

1. The Sri Lankan experience has sanctioned the OHCHR to expand its scope of operations from addressing issues relating only to its mandate of International Human Rights Law, to include issues relating to International Humanitarian Law. There has been no official revision of the mandate by the General Assembly.

2. The OHCHR has invited itself “to establish a full-fledged country presence to monitor the human rights situation.” , i.e., a permanent presence to look over Sri Lanka’s shoulder, and to monitor the situation and report favourably/ unfavourably to suit the geopolitical interests of major powers sponsoring the Resolution.

Considering the idealism with which the UN Declaration of Human Rights was created following the end of WWII, it is indeed a sad day that the UN has now become a pawn in the hands of big power politics. In this background, small countries will have to be extra vigilant if they are to survive as free and independent States. Sri Lanka has arrived at such a cross-road. The choices it makes now would determine its future destiny.

 

10 Responses to “Principal findings of OHCHR report”

  1. anura seneviratna Says:

    Without any trained legal knowledge as a layperson, one can assume the law should be based on justice and truth wholly sacrilegious. It should be presented to citizens in a more simple and rational form not to say legal profession to be disbanded. Coming to so called human rights, is it reasonable to ask how can certain beings in appearance garbed in human body but actions and behaviour does not have human refinement or humanity be entitled to HUMAN RIGHTS or without performing HUMAN DUTIES? Even the so called “war” in SL should not be legally defined as so when it was an attempted insidious invasive terror to set up a second Tamil Nadu (Tamil Country). Hence, a sovereign country can perform defence action which should be legally justifiable! Although, it was fraudulently propagated worldwide as a justifiable slogan of “self determination” with numerous false witnesses due to availability of mass populous against small victim of Sri Lanka is truly abominable and disgrace to LAW!

  2. Independent Says:

    While we are busy here analysing a problem which is at least temporarily solved, another important crime is going on by this shameless government.
    My intention is not to drift your attention away, but Mahendran the Tamil thief has gone on rampage punishing those officials who gave evidence against him, with the aid of Runil. There has been another “SIT DOWN ” incident in the parliament. People who got 300,000 votes kept silent. Time has come for people of Sri Lanka to surround the parliament and demand the sacking of this Tamil Chief and punish and take back money he has stolen.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Our thanks to Mr Ladduwahetty for a fine analysis here.

    Yes, Lanka MUST insist on a Re-Evaluation. Or else permanent control from outside will prevail.

    Ranil’s Central Bank Bond Scam via new Governor, his pal Arjun Mahendran, to crash the Economy (115 Central Bank officials transferred to protect Mahendran !);
    plus Ranil’s nod for the ‘Chunnel’ between Caste bound Tamil Nadu & Lanka, all point in that direction.

    Lanka on the brink of a permanent take over ! Watch it, People of Lanka : there is no going back from the onset of Fascism and social destruction all this will create.

    Truth and nothing but the truth is what is needed in Lanka, not cloaking devices such as the OHCHR Report.

  4. Indrajith Says:

    සුරේන්ගේ ගෙදර පාටිය ආරංචි වී
    ලන්ඩන් ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයෝ තුෂ්ණිම්භූත වෙති

    කීර්ති වර්ණකුලසූරිය – Courtesy Divaina

    රජයේ දේශපාලනඥයකු සහ හිටපු ආරක්‍ෂක ප්‍රධානියකු ඇතුළුÊපිරිසක්‌ ලන්ඩන් නුවර පිහිටි ගෝලීය ද්‍රවිඩ සංසදයේ ප්‍රකාශක සුරේන් සුරේන්ද්‍රන්ගේ නිවසේ භෝජන සංග්‍රහයකට සහභාගි වී ඇතැයි ප්‍රකාශ කරන ලන්ඩන් නුවර ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයෝ දැඩි විමතියකටත් තැතිගැන්මකටත් පත්ව සිටිති. ශ්‍රී ලංකා හමුදාව යුද අපරාධ සිදුකළ බව කියමින් එය ජාත්‍යන්තර අධිකරණයට ගෙන යැමට දැඩි ලෙස උත්සාහ කර ඇති පුද්ගලයන් අතර සුරේන් සුරේJද්‍රන් ද ප්‍රධාන පෙළේ පුද්ගලයකු බව කියවේ.

    එසේම ගෝලීය ද්‍රවිඩ සංසදය තහනමට ලක්‌ වූ සංවිධානයක්‌ වේ.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Mangala.

  6. Cerberus Says:

    We have much to thank Mr. Ladduwahetty for the great services he has done for the country to enlighten us about the legal angles during these trying times. He is absolutely correct. The choices we make now will determine our future whether we become a vassal state or a free and independent nation. Mr. Ladduwahetty’s recommendation “Therefore, the Government is on solid ground to request the OHCHR to revisit those recommendations that are “essentially within the domestic jurisdiction” of Sri Lanka. If the Government fails to address this issue, in particular aspects relating to the section on justice, there is a possibility that the public could lose confidence in the rulings of Courts and Sri Lanka’s judicial system.”

    Why did the Govt not produce the Maxwell Paranagama report and the recommendations by Sir Desmond De Silva and the other International Lawyers which is work which had been done by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Govt. Even to date President My3 has not produced these reports and made them available even to the Parliament. Has the Parliament become defunct?

    The Yahapalanaya govt appears to have been in an almighty hurry to cosponsor the Resolution. Why? The Yahapalanaya group led by RW appears to think that the people have given him mandate to sell the country to foreign powers so that they can start Governing once again as they did till 1948. He must remember that he won by a very narrow margin and that the National Govt was a sleight of hand creation which was created to give the Yahapalanaya group a 2/3 majority to push through any Bill they want through the parliament. Power appears to have gone to RW’s head as never before and he has taken to calling other MPs “pimp’s and “ahikuntakaya”s.

  7. NAK Says:

    Of what ever actions this good for nothing mutt ‘Runil’ takes the ultimate responsibility rests with Sirisena.
    Those legal luminaries who understand and see the slide of the country perpetrated by this illegal government has a sacred duty by our beloved country to arrest this situation before it deteriorates in to another civil disturbance.
    Sirisena has to be brought before justice for his illegal actions and atleast restrained from his present ugly system of governance, if he can not be removed altogether.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    Some excellent Russian MI-24 (mil) attacks on terrorists!

    Beautiful.

    “http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/video-shows-russian-mi-24-hind-attack-helicopters-in-in-1735768242”

    Mil hu akbar!

  9. nilwala Says:

    Cerberus is absolutely right. RW has a habit of selling off the country without any “by your leave” from the People who are clearly declared as Sovereign by the Constitution of Sri Lanka. First it was the CFA by which RW handed over territory to the Eelamists…and now it is the Co-Sponsorship of the UNHRC Resolution via which the country’s Judicial System and Governance System are being thrown to the winds, and foreign Judges brought in to provide needed expertise on Accountability and the proposed new/revised Sri Lanka’s Constitution….an insult to the dignity and self respect of the country. Time to go for a country-wide referendum on the farce that is being perpetrated in the name of a “UNITY GOVERNMENT”.
    Where will all this end…. with Sri Lanka once more a protectorate of US or UK??

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Pres Sirisena is the person who appointed Ranil the Wick(ed) as PM stating that ‘the west wants it so’. We already have a puppet govt in place – so what more ?

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