Justice Minister, UN official in heated argument Special Rapportuer Emmerson, QC to brief media today
Posted on July 13th, 2017

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, had a heated argument with visiting UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter Terrorism Ben Emmerson, QC, over UN intervention here as regards promotion and protection of human rights.

Sri Lanka in December 2015 extended a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures Mandate Holders.

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Wijeyadasa
Emmerson

Emmerson began a five-day official visit here on July 10 to gather first-hand information about what the UN described as post-war initiatives in the area of counter-terrorism and assess how they affect the people.

Minister Rajapaksa strongly questioned the UN official resulting in an unprecedented fiery argument early this week, well informed sources said, adding that the meeting took place at the Justice Ministry.

Sources said Emmerson had been somewhat taken aback by Dr. Rajapakse’s outburst though the UN knew of his opposition to UN intervention here. Emmerson warned Minister Rajapakse that he would publicly announce the latter’s refusal to cooperate with the UN. The minister said that he was free to call media briefings.

Emmerson will discuss the situation at a media briefing at UN building at 202 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7 today at 3.00 pm. Sources said that reference would certainly be made to recent ‘clash’ with the Justice Minister.

Sources said that Minister Rajapakse had called the UN stand here unfair and unacceptable. Emmerson reported the incident to the UN.

A senior Foreign Ministry official yesterday confirmed the incident at the Justice Ministry.

A UN statement issued from Geneva before Emmerson’s arrival here quoted top British lawyer as having said, “I will seek to provide assistance in the discussion of the country’s counter-terrorism policy and legal framework as well as in the preparation and drafting of relevant legislative acts, with a view to ensuring that measures taken by the Government are in compliance with international human rights law.”

Minister Rajapakse recently called for reviewing Sri Lanka’s decision to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in the wake of those who had been demanding abolition of the legislation having to adopt draconian measures to counter terrorism. Sri Lanka has repeatedly assured the international community that the PTA would be repealed to pave the way for Anti-Terrorism Law conforming to international norms.

Emmerson also had high-level meetings with representatives of the Government, including the ministries responsible for foreign affairs, law and order, Southern development, justice, defence, finance, media, prison reforms, rehabilitation, resettlement and Hindu religious affairs.

The Special Rapporteur met law enforcement officials, members of parliament, members of specialised police departments, the National Police Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

Emmerson interviewed persons suspected or convicted of terrorist crimes now in detention.

Emmerson was the former senior counsel for the Independent Inquiry into child abuse headed by Prof. Alexis Jay. Emmerson quit the Independent Inquiry late last year following an allegation of sexual assault in a lift against him. However, Emmerson was fully cleared by his law chambers, Matrix following an independent inquiry into the allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Sources said that Emmerson had also met representatives of the international community, lawyers, academics, and representatives of non-governmental organisations.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report with his findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2018.

Government sources said that the recent flare-up took place in the wake of Minister Rajapakse rejecting controversial report prepared by Ms. Mónica Pinto, the former Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers following her visit to Sri Lanka and presented to Geneva Council by her successor, Diego García-Sayán. The report reiterated call for foreign judges and other experts in accountability mechanisms set up in accordance with Geneva Resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka in Oct 2015.

In addition to Pinto, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the SR on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence visited Sri Lanka.

The Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are expected to visit Sri Lanka.

6 Responses to “Justice Minister, UN official in heated argument Special Rapportuer Emmerson, QC to brief media today”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    UN OFFICIALS SHOULD STOP TRYING TO SHOWCASE THEIR NON-EXISTENT SUPERIORITY COMPLEX IN THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA. THIS MAN CERTAINLY MET HIS WATERLOO. DR. WIJEDASA IS THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF JUSTICE. HE IS CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO ACCOMODATE INTERLOPERS, IN SRILANKAN AFFAIRS. LET IT BE VERY CLEAR THAT SRILANKANS DO NOT WANT TO BE BULLIED BY UN INTERLOPERS.

    SRILANKAN PRESIDENT HAS VERY CLEARLY, AND ONCE AND FOR ALL, STATED THAT HE WILL NOT ALLOW **FOREIGN JUDGES **IN SRILANKA, MEDDLING WITH SRILANKAN AFFAIRS. OUR PRESIDENTS RESOLVE, HAS TO BE RESPECTED, AND IS NON NEGOTIABLE. IS THAT CLEAR TO ALL THESE ***SPECIAL***INTERLOPERS WHO ARE TRYING VERY HARD TO MAKE SRILANKANS ACCEPT UN GARBAGE. ALL ATTEMPTS WOULD BE FUTILE.

  2. Noor Nizam Says:

    THESE ARE INTERNATIONAL BEGGARS UNDER THE DISGUISE OF CALLING THEMSELVES UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND COUNTER TERRORISM WHO HAVE NO RIGHT TO CHALLENGE THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA WHOSE DECISION HAS ALREADY BEEN ANNOUNCED THAT SRI LANKA WILL NOT ALLOW FOREIGN JUDGES IN ANY PROBES IN SRI LANKA VIZ-A-VIZ THE SO-CALLED UN GENEVA RESOLUTION TRYING TO MAKE A LIVING BY TRYING TO BULLY A SOVEREIGN STATE AND ONE OF THE OLDEST MEMBER OF THE FAMILY OF THE COMMONWEALTH. Ben Emmerson is a suspected sexual assault criminal. The former senior counsel on the national child abuse inquiry in England and Wales in the UK, Ben Emmerson QC, quit the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) in September 2016. He was paid £400,000-a-year in this post, when he was named in a BBC Newsnight programme after an inquiry worker revealed details of an alleged sexual assault in a lift. As the counsel of (IICSA), Mr Emmerson was paid £1,700 a day and worked 240 days in the financial year 2015-16, adding up to £408,000. His role was to guide the panel through the evidence, including cross-examining witnesses.The abuse inquiry, under the chairmanship of Prof Alexis Jay, which probed his criminal sexual assault on the inquiry worker, has repeatedly refused to release any further information about Emmerson’s departure. Using his “high profile links” this culprit has been able to sweep his crime under the carpet of the “Rule of Law” in the UK and relinquished his post before been brought before the “Rule of Law” in September 2016. HOW HE GOT THIS HIGH PROFILE ASSIGNMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA NEEDS A UN PROBE. This fellow may claim to have the best knowledge and background on Human Rights and Counter Terrorism reading books or law suites, but he has to go to school to former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to really learn some practical knowledge and on the ground experience how to Counter Terrorism. I am sure that his encounter with our Hon. Minister of Justice, Dr. Wijeydasa Rajapakse would have given him better lessons of proper Human Rights. I do not know why the Government allowed these types of scoundrels to enter Sri Lanka under the disguise of being a UN Rapporteur and try to show their long arm of using UN Resolutions, when our President Mathripala Sirisena has already resolved that NO FOREIGN JUDGES will be entertained in any of the so-called inquiries on our brave security forces these rascals are trying to set-in-motion through the UN Geneva Resolution. I am NOT a sympathizer of the “YAHAPALANA” government, but I will not fail to commend the stand taken by our President Maithripala Sirisena and the Hon. Minister of Justice, Dr. Wijeydasa Rajapaksa who has stood his ground to tell these fellows that we in Sri Lanka mean real business when it comes to matters concerning our Security Forces, Ant-Terrorism and International Relations.
    Noor Nizam – Convener “The Muslim Voice”.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC must get our complete support and respect. Among all politicians, he is the greatest defender of Sri Lankan interests today. In fact this is the only time when a Sri Lankan politician has stood up against the UN. Sri Lanka miserably failed in May 2009 succumbing to the detrimental Joint Statement with the UN. We also failed to officially (emphasised) protest against the invalidity of the POE report of the UNSG. Blasting the UN in political rallies doesn’t count. Tamil Nadu style hunger strikes at the UN compound certainly don’t count.

    These paid workers of the UN are a disgrace. As a member state Sri Lanka deserves respect and sovereign rights. How dare they tell us what to do? This is because for decades Sri Lanka has been a yesman to the UN. Defiance was never seen and when that happens, UN officials go crazy.

    Susantha is right. The President made it very clear that he will not allow any foreign investigation. They must stand their ground. UN has no mandate on this. The matter must be pushed to the UN Security Council where it will be defeated and the matter dies there.

  4. samurai Says:

    The UN must send a Special Rapporteur to investigate Sri Lanka’s claims for compensation from the British Govt. for destruction of the Kandyan Peasantry and their means for earning a livelihood.

    British injustice in the enactment of waste land laws

    Kandyan peasants were made landless. They were reduced to a landless state by the take over of their lands for the plantation industry (initially coffee, then tea) by the British colonial government under a series of waste land laws commencing with the Crown Lands (Encroachments) Ordinance, No. 12 of 1840 which stipulated that ‘ all forest, waste, unoccupied or uncultivated land was to be presumed to be the property of the Crown until the contrary is proved’. By this one stroke of legislation, “bread” was taken out of the poor cultivator’s mouth and enormous hardship imposed on the Kandyan peasantry.

    British employ genocidal warfare in crushing Kandyan resistance to colonial rule (1818) – Retardation of development of Kandyan Province especially Uva

    With the advent of British rule in the Kandyan areas in 1815 there arose a set of new ideas of political organisation, of land utilization and of commerce.

    At the same time there arose growing opposition from the Kandyan chiefs, the monks and the people to further continuation of British rule in the Kanda Uda Rata as they felt that the British were steadily moving away from honouring the commitments given to the Kandyan signatories under the Kandyan Convention of 1815.

    In 1818 a rebellion broke out in Uwa and Wellassa and rapidly spread to the rest of the Kandyan Provinces. It was brutally crushed by the British using methods that today fall under the definitions of genocide, mass murder and crimes against humanity.

    The harsh methods adopted by the British contributed in no small measure to the retarding of development of the Kandyan Province, particularly that of Uva. There was great loss of life where the total destruction of irrigation works and the decimation of cattle combined to impoverish the people and depopulate the area.

    During British colonial rule, vast swathes of mountainous forests were cleared to make way for tea growing plantations. This decrease in habitat contributed significantly to wild elephant populations being pushed into areas inhabited by humans leading to the first elephant human conflict which has grown into virtually an insurmountable problem in Sri Lanka today.

    The British Colonial Government has a lot to account for the crisis it created by destroying the natural habitats of the wild elephants as well as the habitats of the Kandyan peasantry in its greed to establish Tea and Coffee plantations in the Up country by enacting the Waste Lands Ordinance (1840) that led to the dispossession of the traditional homelands of the Kandyans.

    One Account says as follows:

    ” Until 1830, elephants were so plentiful (in Ceylon) that their destruction was encouraged by the (British Colonial) government, and rewards were paid for any that was killed. In the first half of the 19th century, forests in the montane zone were cleared large-scale for the planting of coffee, and afterwards tea. The elephant population in the mountains was extirpated.

    During the British rule, many bull elephants were killed by trophy hunters. One of the army majors is credited with having shot over 1,500 elephants, and two others are reputed to have shot half that number each. Many other so-called sportsmen have shot about 250-300 animals during this time. Between 1829 and 1855 alone, more than 6,000 elephants were captured and shot.”

    No apology nor any compensation has been paid by any of the Western colonial Governments e.g. Portugal, Netherlands and Britain, to Sri Lanka for the destruction of both man – made as well as the natural foundations of life in Sri Lanka over a period of nearly 450 years (1505 – 1948).

    Accountability for crimes cannot be made into a one way street. It will bring both International Law and United Nations into disrepute and give rise to credibility issues.

    The vastness of the British Empire including the jungles of Sri Lanka was made into a hunting ground for Big Game on the part of members of British military families. They hunted not only for pleasure but also as part of their training for battle and display of their manhood and masculinity. It was the Fauna and Flora of Sri Lanka that paid a huge price for this training which brought out a new genre – hunting narratives.

    The material available in public records and other sources including the Internet, reveals huge British Govt. complicity in the liquidation of a good part of Sri Lanka’s natural forests in the Kandyan areas and the priceless elephant wealth which was until then greatly protected by Sri Lanka’s Animal Friendly Cultural Heritage which is based on Buddhist values and reverence for the sanctity of life of all living beings.

    British cruelty to Elephants

    British sadism was such that killing elephants became a sport. Within a matter of few years over 3500 elephants had been shot dead. Major Rogers had killed 1200, Captain Galway had killed 600. Elephants were one time part of the Elephant Brigade of the Kings army. By 2000 there were said to be less than 1500 elephants in Sri Lanka in a country that had over 10,000 elephants before the British seized the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815.

    The sadistic and unrepentant English hunter Samuel Baker upon returning to England in 1855 after a stay of 6 years in Ceylon had no qualms of conscience to publish a book titled, “The Rifle and Hound in Ceylon” where he describes the wanton destruction of Sri Lanka’s elephant population by him illustrating with captivating drawings his own personal involvement in the mass murder of elephants.

    A day’s success at hunting was measured by the number of animals killed in one day not sparing even an orphaned destitute baby elephant that strode behind hugging the mother’s heel. Sometimes this figure reached thirty or forty in number. In his narrative Samuel Baker shamelessly admits that when a lactating she elephant was killed he and his brother did not fail to enjoy the spilling milk from the mother’s udder sucking the nipples with their mouths as it was deemed wholesome.

    We read regularly in the western dominated international newspapers and even in our spineless local press of the atrocities committed by the Axis powers e.g. Nazi Germans against Jews and other subject people, but in respect to the crimes committed against both humans and animals during the colonial era all over the world by the western colonial powers, there is a deafening silence.

    Accountability and Atonement are important even in respect to dead animals.

    In the memory of 6000 dead elephants and hundreds of thousands of innocent animals killed by British Colonialists for fun and sports at a time when local people were helpless to protect them we the people of Sri Lanka today have a moral obligation to try to achieve justice for these dead elephants by remembering them and see what compensation can be obtained from the very nation i.e., Britain, which encouraged British settlers to kill elephants and depopulate the Kandyan Kingdom by bringing the Waste Lands Ordinance (1840) and thereby rendering the Kandyan people landless and destitute.

    Those who benefited from these crimes against elephants and humans e.g. both Kandyan and local people, are accountable for the crimes.

    Historical injustices by the colonial powers must be rectified. They cannot be swept under the carpet any longer.
    Apology and Reparations are very much on the Cards today.

    They cannot be wished away however much the British Govt., and their local acolytes try to do.

    ASK THE JEWS TO FORGET THE PAST.E.G. NAZI HOLOCAUST AND SEE HOW THEY REACT.

    If it is in order to commit crimes then accountability must surely follow. If you act wrongfully then you cannot blame another for pointing the finger at you and others who have benefited from your wrong(s) including your descendants and saying ‘you did a wrong ’. That is what we are doing. Our ancestors and forebears were powerless then to undo the wrong(s). The fetters that tied them no longer tie us of the present generation.

    There is a measure of justice in remembering the past and innocent victims both humans and non – human animals.
    There is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity nor even genocide of animals.
    Those who care for elephants must keep the memory of the dead elephants alive to ensure that such monstrous crimes are not allowed to be repeated on this soil again.

    “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana).

    It is time that Sri Lanka makes an unequivocal demand for financial compensation from Britain for atrocities committed on Sri Lanka’s elephant population during the colonial era, among other just claims e.g. dispossession of the Kandyan Peasantry, for the purpose of setting up a sizeable monetary Fund to address elephant related issues in the country.

  5. Ratanapala Says:

    Sri Lanka must show the door to these international interlopers. Sri Lanka should stand firm in this instance. Hope Minister Rajapakse will get the necessary support from the rest of Yahapalana if they even have an iota of self-respect.

  6. samurai Says:

    However we cannot blame only the UN Special Rapportuer Emmerson, because it is the cowards in the government who co-sponsored the Geneva Resolution

    Also click:

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2014/03/24/the-crimes-against-humanity-by-british-governor-robert-brownrigg-butcher-of-uva-wellassa-in-sri-lanka/

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