Geneva stand contradicted in parliament – the Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena
Posted on June 21st, 2017

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Alleging that the yahapalana government had taken contradictory positions in respect of continuing UN interventions made in accordance with 2015 and 2017 resolutions co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, the Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena, MP, yesterday demanded an immediate clarification from the UNP-SLFP coalition.

Gunawardena accused the government of repeatedly deceiving parliament regarding its Geneva commitments.

The MP pointed out that Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse had issued vastly contradictory statements in response to former Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Monica Pinto’s adverse report taken up at the 35th session of the human rights council. Pinto called for foreign judges and other international experts in proposed war crimes courts in accordance with 2015 resolution.

Ambassador Aryasinha responded positively to Pinto’s report presented by her successor Diego Garcia-Sayan on June 12. MP Gunawardena pointed out that Sri Lanka thereby had refrained from challenging Pinto’s damaging observations and recommendations.

MP Gunawardena told The Island that Ambassador Aryasinha had reassured Sri Lanka’s commitment to addressing issues raised by Garcia-Sayan and also to provide unhindered access to Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, 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.

“A week later, in Parliament, Justice Minister flayed the UN system, alleging the report was meant to substantiate allegations made by NGOs and various other interested parties,” MP Gunawardena said.

The former minister said the government certainly owed the country an explanation as regards co-operation extended to the UN against the backdrop of Justice Minister Rajapakse’s attack. Obviously, Foreign and Justice ministries couldn’t take different views the campaign for the participation of foreign judges in a war crimes court to be set up here.

Responding to a query by The Island, Gunawardena said that he had moved an adjournment motion in Parliament on June 6,demanding that the controversial Geneva resolution adopted on the basis of unfounded allegations be revoked. MP Gunawardena said that the government had no option but to review its position on 2015 resolution reaffirmed in 2017. The JO leader pointed out that a member of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) Ambika Satkunanathan, too, had recently pointed out that the government had agreed to foreign judges in accordance with the Geneva resolution.

The MP alleged that in spite of both President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe repeatedly ruling out foreign judges, Geneva had taken up the issue again. The veteran parliamentarian said that the June 12 statement had extensively dealt with the Sri Lankan judicial structures and post-January 2015 developments in respect of the judiciary.

Due to UNP-SLFP coalition’s failure, Geneva was pushing for defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators in addition to judges in an unconstitutional ‘hybrid’ court, Gunawardena said.

Former UPFA MP and navy Chief of Staff Sarath Weerasekera, too, made representations on the sidelines of Geneva sessions against Pinto’s report.

MP Gunawardena said that the yahapalana statements on Pinto’s report had exposed growing divisions within the coalition.

Responding to another question, Gunawardena said the JO would like to know whether the yahapalana constituents, particularly the SLFP shared Minister Rajapakse’s views or subscribed to the June 12 statement made in Geneva. Gunawardena alleged that having accepted Western powers’ backed TNA and Tamil Diaspora proposals for foreign judges, yahapalana leaders were now pulling in different directions.

The JO leader appreciated the Justice Minister’s stand on Pinto’s report.

He asked whether the Justice Minister’s position was acceptable to the rest of the UNP parliamentary group.

3 Responses to “Geneva stand contradicted in parliament – the Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Govt accuses UN of producing false report on Sri Lanka
    June 20, 2017, 10:52 pm

    By Saman Indrajith

    The government yesterday said UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of the justice system, Monica Pinto, had produced a false report on Sri Lanka, distorting facts to undermine the country’s sovereignty.

    Making a ministerial statement in Parliament, Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said Pinto’s report had made false statements with a view to substantiating the claims made by some NGOs.

    “I am sure that Pinto hasn’t compiled this report. That has been done by some local NGOs finding fault with government to get dollars. She has just put her name to the report,” the Minister said.

    Minister Rajapakshe said Representative Monica Pinto had submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Committee. She was in the country from April 29, 2016 to May 07, 2016. She visited Anuradhapura, Kandy and Jaffna. “She held talks with me, the Foreign Minister, Attorney General and several other key officials. She released her report on March 23, 2017 ten and a half months after her visit. It is surprising to note her statements. According to her Sri Lanka’s judiciary and the Attorney General’s Department are corrupt.”

    The Minister said that such a report could not be prepared after visiting the country for three to four days even if she was a genius. During her visit, she had called on him and he had told her about the independence of the judiciary. But, nothing he told her had been mentioned in her report, the minister said. “We register our protest against this report issued for the benefit of parasite NGOs.”

    UN Special Rapporteur Pinto had overlooked the positive developments and achievements the incumbent government had made during the recent past for the benefit of independence of judiciary. Some of her statements were baseless and the government couldn’t comprehend on what basis she had made those statements, the Justice Minister said.

    The UN Special Rapporteur has found fault with the government for not doing away with the Prevention of Terrorism Act. “Now the developed countries in the West are introducing more draconian laws to prevent terrorism. Those western nations who found fault with us when we made use of the PTA to defeat terrorism are now compelled to bring about draconian laws which undermine human rights in view of emerging terrorist threats. Five days back, the Japanese parliament passed a new legislation, the Criminal Conspiracy Law, listing 277 offences which are considered acts of terrorism. Japan has given special powers to the police to arrest anyone anytime if there is suspicion of his or her involvement in those offences. They have also defined Facebook posts about violence as a crime but also responding to them by liking them as an offence warranting immediate arrest. It is in this context that Pinto is suggesting us to relax the laws meant for the protection of human race.”

    “She has suggested that we should amend laws enabling a suspect to have access to a lawyer the moment the he is taken into custody. We would like to ask how and why she won’t recommend that to Great Britain, which does not allow a suspect to meet his lawyers within the first 36 hours after arrest,” the minister said.

    “I would like to stress that the most powerful international organisation in the world, the UN, should look into qualifications of persons when appointments to high posts are made. We continuously question the lack of encouragement from the UN to end terrorism here during our 30 year long war against terror. We are happy that former UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon admitted at the time of his retirement that there had been serious mistakes and shortcomings on the part of UN with regard to Sri Lanka.”

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    ඔබ සිංහල නම් මේ වීඩියෝව බලන්න.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Wijeyadasa Rajapakse seems to be the only one talking sense in this government. We appreciate his comments.

    Instead of playing politics with it and demanding to know what the stand of the SLFP and UNP on Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s statement, the JO must support it.

    So what is the stand of the JO on Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s statement?

    Dinesh merely appreciating the Justice Minister’s stand on Pinto’s report won’t work. Does the JO support or oppose Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s statement?

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