UN report shows HRC co-sponsors must work to ensure Sri Lanka implements OISL recommendations
By Together Against Genocide (TAG), Friday, December 09 2016
The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) report on Sri Lanka, calls into question President Siresena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s commitment to the promised full implementation of UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 30-1.
Contrary to recommendation 12 of the UN OISL report, not only has the Sirisena government failed to vet military and security force personnel, it has re-appointed Sisira Mendis as Chief of National Intelligence, despite his links to some of the most egregious allegations of torture. The significance of Mendis’s membership of Sri Lanka’s delegation to the UNCAT was not lost on the Committee. The report states:
In this regard, the Committee was alarmed by the presence of the Chief of National Intelligence, Sisira Mendis, as part of the Sri Lankan delegation, since he was the Deputy Inspector General of the CID from March 2008 to June 2009. The Committee observed that Mr. Mendis is named in the OISL Report, which notes that the CID’s “4th Floor” facility at police headquarters in Colombo was known as a notorious site of torture. The OISL report also recounts allegations of widespread torture, including sexual violence, perpetrated against individuals detained at Manik Farm camp and elsewhere in the aftermath of the conflict by personnel of the CID and the TID over which Mr. Mendis also allegedly exercised supervisory authority until June 2009.
In consensually adopting HRC Resolution 30-1 in October 2015, the Government of Sri Lanka welcomed and agreed to implement the recommendations of the OISL. Mendis’s position sits uneasily with OISL Recommendation 12 and HRC 30-1 clause 7:
OISL Recommendation 12: Develop a fully-fledged vetting process respecting due process to remove from office military and security force personnel and any other public official where there are reasonable grounds to believe that they were involved in human rights violations;
HRC 30-1 7: Encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to reform its domestic law to ensure that it can implement effectively its own commitments, the recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the recommendations of the report of the Office of the High Commissioner, including by allowing for, in a manner consistent with its international obligations, the trial and punishment of those most responsible for the full range of crimes under the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations relevant to violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, including during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission;
An adequate vetting process would ensure that alleged war criminals do not continue to hold official positions and represent Sri Lanka in international forums such as the UNCAT. Individuals identified as alleged perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity are precisely those who will be investigated and prosecuted under a credible, independent mechanism that meets the OISL guidelines.
The vast majority of victims of Sisira’s alleged torture were of Tamil ethnicity. By sending a man accused of responsibility for systemic and grotesque torture, including sexual violence, Sri Lanka is signalling that it has little intention of complying with resolution 30-1. TAG is concerned that this also signals that Sri Lanka intends to continue to allow the persecution of its ethnic Tamil community through torture and other human rights violations.
Co-sponsors of HRC Resolution 30-1 should hold Sri Lanka to its commitments and ensure full implementation of the OISL recommendations.