Posted on July 24th, 2017

with Ravi Ladduwahetty Ladduwahetty Courtesy Ceylon Today

The United Nations Human Rights Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson has exceeded his mandate, which smacks of bigotry.

He should be ashamed of himself. He had no mandate whatsoever to say most of the things he said about the Government of Sri Lanka and its sovereignty. Had he made half of these comments about England or the United States, they would have resurrected half of the allegations of sexual abuse against him and he would have been hiding in some Third World Embassy in London by now like Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame! All this is because Sri Lanka is small and powerless in the eyes of the former colonial overlord.

But that does not give him the licence to say what he said. This is also a sequel to the spineless manner in which Sri Lanka caved into this incursion as far as the cosponsoring the US Resolution in Geneva in 2015 is concerned.

It is also high time that the Government of Sri Lanka restores the dignity of the country and it should take up the matter with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and also the United Nations Secretary General about the high-handed manner in which Emmerson has acted. It is precisely such people who live off the largess of the UN System and its connected networks. Small third world nations such as Sri Lanka are at their mercy of sundry mercenaries in the good books of lobbies with twisted vested interests.

Emmerson said at the news conference and also in a statement, the following:

Many of those who spoke to the Special Rapporteur expressed dismay at the lack of ministerial, parliamentary or public consultation over the proposals. Indeed, even the Human Rights Commission has not been informed or consulted on the draft framework.

Nonetheless, the present draft makes some significant improvements. Notably, it allows the Human Rights Commission unfettered access to individuals in detention and it abolishes the Attorney-General’s right of veto over the grant of bail. It creates an improved framework for administrative and pre-trial detention, with greater scope for independent judicial review.

However, there are a number of central flaws in the current framework draft which, if enacted, would guarantee the continued violation of the human rights of terrorism suspects. Foremost amongst these is a provision preserving the admissibility of confessions made to a Police officer in custody under duress. In a country with such a grave and widespread problem of torture and ill-treatment in custody, the only means by which counter-terrorism legislation could conform to international human rights standards would be the prohibition altogether of the use of confessions made to the Police. That is the position under the general law in Sri Lanka, for good reason, and it should certainly be the position under counter-terrorism legislation, where the risk of torture is at its greatest.

There are problems too with the breadth of the definition of terrorism, which poses a real risk that the legislation could be used in circumstances very far removed from acts of real terrorism, or against minorities or human rights defenders in a discriminatory and sectarian manner. There are also serious problems with a number of provisions of the framework draft directed at the gathering of evidence.

There are also important aspects in which the draft legislation is under-inclusive and fails to deal with modern terrorism phenomena such as the prevalence of Foreign Terrorist Fighters in this part of the world.

The progress of this legislation to date has been painfully slow, and this has, in turn, delayed the wider package of transitional justice measures that Sri Lanka committed to deliver two years ago. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that this inertia reflects the continuing influence of certain vested interests in the security sector, who are resistant to change, and above all, to accountability.

I am pleased to be able to announce today that the Government has undertaken to engage in a process of constructive dialogue with my mandate in an effort to improve the draft legislation before it is placed before Parliament. There is still time to get this legislation right, and for it to become the cornerstone of a new order in Sri Lanka. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has undertaken to consult with my team in Geneva within the next two weeks. The aim of this dialogue is to identify the flaws in the current draft, and to seek solutions for putting them right.

To conclude, then, it is necessary to stand back and look at the picture as a whole. There have been many statements of good intention, but so far little in the way of effective action to bring about a lasting and just settlement to the conflict; one which commands the confidence of all sections of the community. It seems that some small steps are now, at last being taken, in that direction. My plea to the Government and the people of Sri Lanka is to let these be the right steps, and not to allow the process to be diverted by retrograde elements in the security establishment and their allies in Government.

When the two sides of the accountability equation are viewed side by side, the resulting picture is stark: The Government has thus far done almost nothing to hold to account those members of the Armed Forces and Security Services who committed gross human rights violations during and since the conflict. At the same time, it has, until now, continued to operate the cruel and unjust PTA system, a system that has overwhelmingly impacted on the Tamil minority. These are precisely the conditions likely to produce festering grievances, to foster unrest and even to reignite conflict.


  1. Dilrook Says:

    Very well said!

    Both Feltman and Emmerson are just US and British hegemonic agents trying to rule Sri Lanka, divide it as per their needs and create another Lebanon here.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2023 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress