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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2736

One sided justice in Sri Lanka could justify a UNHRC international enquiry

By A Special Correspondent
Colombo, 01 February, (Asiantribune.com):

Ironically, the tactics of the regime to target the Rajapaksa’s as evidence that the justice system is independent and is working in Sri Lanka, might prompt the very person who they are targeting to call for an international enquiry as he too would not have the confidence that those who fought and risked their lives to free Sri Lanka from the tyranny of the LTTE will be treated fairly by a politically inspired and motivated domestic mechanism whose only target and objective might be to discredit the Rajapaksa’s and distance them from being the principal architects for winning the war and beating terrorism.

The question Sri Lankans must ask themselves is whether justice is being applied uniformly in their country.
Can they honestly agree that it is being uniformly applied?

If so, why has not even a single member of the previous regime’s cabinet of ministers now serving in the current cabinet been subject to any kind of enquiry about corruption or abuse of power?

Many of them were accused by the UNP in Opposition as being rogues hand in glove with the Rajapaksa coterie but the UNP now in power has chosen to target only those SLFP or Opposition members of Parliament and their supporters who are loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Could anyone name one person who is under investigation, has been questioned, and has been arrested for alleged corruption and abuse of power who is not a Rajapaksa or one their supporters?

If this is not one sided justice, then what is?

Are Sri Lankans to believe that those SLFP and other Rajapaksa cabinet ministers who are now under the security umbrella of a former cabinet member and presently the President of the country, and the UNP Prime Minister of the country, are all honest, incorruptible and just looked on when the Rajapaksa family and their supporters allegedly looted the country? Were all of them honest and not engage in any corrupt deals?

The current regime was installed with the backing of the USA and the West on the pretext they were going to reinstitute democracy and the rule of law, which they claimed had suffered immeasurably during the last regime.

At the UNHRC, the government crowed that they were doing the repairs and they had addressed many shortcomings that occurred during the tenure of the previous regime. While the previous regime was certainly not dressed in white and untainted, the constant Goebbelsian repetition that they were corrupt to the boot stuck in the minds of some, and they voted for the ouster of the regime.

There is no doubt that if corruption and abuse of power allegations against any member of the Rajapaksa family or their supporters are proven beyond reasonable doubt, in a court of law acting fairly and justly, then they should face the consequences arising from such a finding.

However, targeting only them and not anyone else associated with the previous regime smacks of an outright vendetta against Mahinda Rajapaksa, his family and his supporters. One should not be labeled a Rajapaksa supporter if one takes this stand on this issue. The only label that should be attached is that the person who is saying this, is for even and inclusive justice and not selective, vendetta based justice as seems to be happening now.

These developments will have grave consequences on the issues surrounding the implementation of the UNHRC resolution as well. While the President, the Prime Minister and the cabinet spoke person Dr Senaratne are making contradictory statements, the terms of the resolution are clear.

Following is the relevant wording in two key clauses in the resolution that Sri Lanka, with the approval of the President and the Prime Minister, co-sponsored.

Clause 4 - Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to undertake a comprehensive approach to dealing with the past, incorporating the full range of judicial and non-judicial measures; also welcomes in this regard the proposal by the Government to establish a commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence, an office of missing persons and an office for reparations; further welcomes the willingness of the Government to give each mechanism the freedom to obtain financial, material and technical assistance from international partners, including the Office of the High Commissioner; and affirms that these commitments, if implemented fully and credibly, will help to advance accountability for serious crimes by all sides and to achieve reconciliation;

Clause 6 -Welcomes the recognition by the Government of Sri Lanka that accountability is essential to uphold the rule of law and to build confidence in the people of all communities of Sri Lanka in the justice system, notes with appreciation the proposal of the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators;

It is abundantly clear that the freedom to obtain financial, material and technical assistance from international partners, including the Office of the High Commissioner, refers specifically to the establishment of a commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence, an office of missing persons and an office for reparations and nothing else a per clause 4. The affirmation that Sri Lanka made by co-sponsoring this resolution was to the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators;

It is clear beyond any doubt that Sri Lanka agreed to

1. Give the freedom for the commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence, an office of missing persons and an office for reparations, to seek financial, material and technical assistance from international partners, including the Office of the High Commissioner

2. The participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators
If this is not clear, then what is?

The current one sided application of justice might backfire on the President and the Prime Minister if they thought that targeting the once powerful Rajapaksa’s will demonstrate to the world that the Sri Lankan justice system has been fixed by them, and that it is impartial and fair and that the West will agree Sri Lanka to have an entirely domestic judicial mechanism.

Perhaps the Sri Lankan leaders also might wish for the international community to believe that the judicial process is free from political interference, although any right thinking individual should wonder why only a certain political family and their supporters are being targeted.

They should also wonder why all the investigative mechanisms set up have to have the Prime Ministers approval to proceed with any enquiry against politicians and former officials. If these bodies were indeed independent, they should have been allowed to investigate cases on a priority basis as per their own independent determination and not the Prime Ministers.

Ironically, the tactics of the regime to target the Rajapaksa’s as evidence that the justice system is independent and is working in Sri Lanka, might prompt the very person who they are targeting to call for an international enquiry as he too would not have the confidence that those who fought and risked their lives to free Sri Lanka from the tyranny of the LTTE will be treated fairly by a politically inspired and motivated domestic mechanism whose only target and objective might be to discredit the Rajapaksa’s and distance them from being the principal architects for winning the war and beating terrorism.

- Asian Tribune -

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and President Maithripala Srisena - File Photo
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