Posted on March 23rd, 2019

Udaya P Gammanpila Courtesy The Ceylon Today

The UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka dated 01.10.2015 and bearing No. 23/1 was brought by the USA. It is now public knowledge that Sri Lanka is the only nation in the world which co-sponsored a resolution against itself.

We had been under tremendous pressure for the last three years to implement the resolution in full because of the co-sponsorship. Sri Lanka had a golden opportunity to come out of this death-trap when the US withdrew from the UNHRC calling it a politically biased cesspool.  

Sri Lanka should have withdrawn from the resolution quoting the allegations levelled by the US.  However, the Government disappointed the nation by its failure to grab this opportunity.  In contrast, Tamil separatists displayed their unwavering courage by sticking to their cause despite being deserted by the world solitary superpower. When the US deserted them, they handed over the leadership of the anti-Sri Lanka campaign to the UK which was not only a former superpower but also the last colonial master of Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the UK tabled on 22 March 2019, a new anti-Sri Lanka resolution numbered as 40/23 at the UNHRC at its 40th session with the sponsorship of Canada, Germany, Montenegro and North Macedonia.  

New resolution

The new resolution has revived the unfulfilled recommendations of the resolution proposed by the US.  Further, it brought Sri Lanka under the supervision of the UNHRC for two years.  Sri Lanka has been notified to implement the recommendations contained in the report tabled at the 40th session by the High Commissioner for Human Rights which has Reference

No. A/HRC/40/23. Paragraph 68(C) of the High Commissioner’s report has reiterated the importance of establishing Hybrid Courts to investigate alleged war crimes. Sri Lanka agreed to investigate alleged war crimes with the participation of foreigners as judges, prosecutors and investigators. However, the Government failed to honour the undertaking because strong protest emerged from the public.  This obligation has been revived by the new resolution.

Lack of progress

The High Commissioner has drawn her attention to the lack of progress in cases filed against former Army Commander, Jagath Jayasuriya in Brazil and Colombia under universal jurisdiction.  In Paragraph 72(C), she has urged member States to prosecute Sri Lankan war heroes for war crimes in their respective States.  

Because of this request, Sri Lankan war heroes are now in grave danger in any country outside Sri Lanka, especially in countries which have admitted universal jurisdiction.  She has grossly violated our sovereignty by interfering with internal affairs having criticised the appointment of Major General Shavendra Silva as the Chief of Staff of the Army.  He has not been found guilty by any Court.  The only ‘crime’ committed by him was saving lives of millions by eradication of terrorism by risking his life.

The High Commissioner has commented in her report about the Government’s failure to identify and punish the persons responsible for the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga.  Unresolved murders are not exclusive to Sri Lanka. It is a situation that can be found in any country. Lasantha was murdered in 2008. 

However, President John F Kennedy was murdered in 1963.  The US has failed to identify the culprits of the Kennedy assassination for the last 56 years despite its boasts of having the most advanced technology in the world.  The High Commissioner has never mentioned about this failure of the US Government in any of her reports, clearly demonstrating duplicity of the UNHRC.

Although the High Commissioner has yelled at Sri Lanka for several isolated incidents including the transfer of a Police Officer, she has decided to be silent on the gravest violation of human rights, ie, postponement of Elections. The Government had postponed Local Authority Elections for three years. Provincial Council Elections are now overdue by 18 months. When the Government does not hold Elections, over fifteen million people lose their franchise and thereby their freedom of expression.  Hence, the High Commissioner should have paid the highest attention to Election postponement.  However, she had been cautious to avoid this important issue displaying her political bias.  

The Sri Lankan Government is more responsible than the High Commissioner for the UNHRC’s anti-Sri Lanka attitude.  When Tamil separatists level baseless allegations against Sri Lanka, the Government should have countered those. Instead, the Government unconditionally admits to these allegations.  It may be pertinent to mention here the Government’s reaction to Lord Naseby’s report on war crime allegations. Lord Naseby is a prominent and respectable personality in the UK which has brought the latest resolution against Sri Lanka.

  After analysing war crime allegations, he has produced a report concluding that a number of causalities during the final phase of the war did not exceed 5,000 and it is within the norm for such a number in this kind of war.

The Sri Lankan Government should have used the Naseby Report to counter war crime allegations and form world opinion favourable to Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the Government considered the report as an irritant to its position. Hence, the Government did not bother to table this valuable report before the UNHRC.


The Foreign Ministry rejected the charges against the Government in the High Commissioner’s report, by issuing a Media release. Dr Sarath Amunugama, a member of Sri Lankan delegation to the UNHRC heavily criticised the report.  Meanwhile, the Government has co-sponsored the resolution which appreciates the report. If the Government does not accept the report, how can it co-sponsor a resolution which appreciates the report? The co-sponsorship has negated the Government’s criticism on the contents of the report.

The nation should punish the ruling party at the forthcoming election for repeating in 2019, the blunder of co-sponsorship committed in 2015.

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