Complaints against war crimes probe:
Civil society seeks explanation from UN Colombo


Sarath Weerasekera speaking with UN official outside its Colombo mission in a bid to secure a meeting with higher authority to discuss war crimes issue(pic by Dharmasene Welipitiya)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

A delegation led by retired Navy Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera yesterday sought an explanation from the UN mission in Colombo as to the status of a petition filed by three organizations on behalf of Sri Lanka in March this year as well as ‘rebuttal’ handed over in the run-up to March 2017 Geneva sessions.

Having had handed over copies of those reports to Colombo based Juan Fernandez, senior human rights advisor, Weerasekera, a former UPFA member of parliament told The Island that they inquired about the developments in the absence UN response to their objections to what he called unfair treatment of a member state.

The Global Sri Lanka Forum (GSLF), the Federation of National Organizations (FNO) and Professionals for a Better Future submitted the petition in line with the complaints procedure, Weerasekera said. However, their case in the form of a petition against the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government was filed by Weerasekera and Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara.

Civil society representatives gathered outside the UN office yesterday seeking meeting with a responsible official. Weerasekera appreciated the chance to meet Spanish national Fernandez at the Colombo mission.

Responding to a query, Weerasekera said that he explained specific measures taken by the previous administration when the UN official reiterated the international community had to intervene here for want of action on Sri Lanka’s part.

Fernandez has also inquired about their response to the setting up of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in accordance with the Geneva Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by Sri Lanka on Oct 1, 2015.

Weerasekera has told the UN official that the issue was not the operationalization of the OMP but exploitation of that mechanism to achieve other objectives inimical to Sri Lanka.

The naval veteran said that Fernandez offered another opportunity for them to meet in this regard.

Dr. Wasantha Bandara, who played a significant role in the project told The Island that they had intervene because the government was working against its own armed forces and the war winning previous government. Responding to a query, Dr. Bandara said that they consulted Sir Geoffrey Nice, who was part of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as regards the latest move.

Nice was among the three foreign experts named to a Sri Lankan panel that probed disappearances and possible war crimes during the conflict brought to an end in May 2009, Dr. Bandara said. Other members are the late Sir Desmond de Silva, a British lawyer of Sri Lankan origin and former U.N. war crimes prosecutor in Sierra Leone, Sir Geoffrey Nice, who was part of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and David Crane, chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2002 to 2005.

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