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Sri Lanka Faces Uphill Battle in Countering Allegations at 55th Human Rights Council Session

March 4, 2024 11:55 am

Sri Lanka Faces Uphill Battle in Countering Allegations at 55th Human Rights Council Session

Geneva, March 4, 2024 – Sri Lanka continues to grapple with unproven accusations related to the Eelam conflict during the ongoing 55th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). Authoritative military sources revealed that despite repeated rejections of resolutions 46/1 and 51/1, coupled with opposition to the external evidence-gathering mechanism established under these resolutions, the nation faces an uphill battle in countering the relentless campaign against it.

The Western powers have taken specific punitive measures against selected Sri Lankan military officers and political leaders based on these unverified allegations. Notably, Canada, two years ago, declared Sri Lanka responsible for genocide during the LTTE war, leading to consequential actions against former Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias.

As the 55th HRC session unfolds until April 5, 2024, diplomatic sources emphasize that mere rejection of resolutions and mechanisms will not suffice. Tangible measures are urgently needed to effectively counter the Geneva campaign and address the serious accusations Sri Lanka faces.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, addressed the high-level segment on February 27, while Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative in Geneva, Himali Arunatilleke, provided an update on March 1. However, concerns persist among serving and retired military officers regarding the government’s delay in addressing the core issues behind the Geneva investigation, particularly the claim that 40,000 civilians perished in the final assault.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, issued a serious warning by stating that his office is actively supporting jurisdictions conducting criminal justice investigations related to Sri Lanka. Türk emphasized ongoing efforts to deepen information and evidence bases on specific incidents of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, through consultations with victims.

The UN declaration poses a significant threat, especially to individuals against whom actions have already been taken. Cases such as Australia denying a visa to Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage, the US designating Gen. Shavendra Silva, and Canada imposing sanctions on former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa highlight the international ramifications of the accusations.

In the absence of a cohesive plan to address these accusations, foreign investigations, supported by Geneva, appear to proceed unhindered. Sri Lanka faces a critical juncture in the ongoing HRC session, with a pressing need for strategic measures to safeguard its reputation on the international stage.

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