The United National Party (UNP) today said that by refusing to engage with the team of investigators appointed by the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Sri Lanka is admitting guilt and depriving itself of an opportunity to make its case.
In a statement issued, the UNP accused the Rajapaksa regime of once again “playing politics” with the national question and ”toying with the grave threat” that it is posing in the international arena.
“After the recent announcement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of the establishment of her team to investigate the atrocities committed by both parties to the Sri Lankan conflict, the government, in a blatant attempt to politicize the issue, has placed before parliament the question of whether the Government should allow the team to visit Sri Lanka or not,” Sri Lanka’s main opposition party said.
It stressed that the burning question before the country today is not the issuance of visas to a few foreigners. “Whether they visit Sri Lanka or not, is not going to have any effect on whether the investigation would be held or not; this investigation will go ahead.”
“What we should do and what the United National Party (UNP) has been stressing for many years is the necessity to prevent such international scrutiny into our affairs. It is beyond dispute that we are in this precarious plight today because of the egregious errors committed by and the lackadaisical inaction displayed by the ruling family cabal,” the UNP said, in a strongly-worded statement.
The international community, after offering the Sri Lankan government numerous opportunities to carry out a credible internal investigation into the alleged human rights violations, especially in relation to the final phase of the war, has determined that the Rajapaksa regime is neither willing nor capable of such action, it said.
“After being duped for years, the international wheels of justice have now begun to turn.”
The UNP said it has repeatedly asked the ruling regime to address these international challenges head-on. “Rather than hiding behind a nationalist, jingoist propaganda veil, the Government should realize that there is a serious issue of human rights in this country.”
“It’s never too late. International challenges can still be effectively faced and resolved. What is required from the regime is the political will,” the statement said.
The party further said that the resolution passed in March this year at the Human Rights Council allows for a window of opportunity for the Sri Lankan government to carry out a credible internal investigation and it would prove that Sri Lanka is capable of handling its own issues.
“In the meantime, by blanket refusal to engage with the team of investigators appointed by the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Sri Lanka is admitting guilt and depriving itself of an opportunity to make its case.”
“This would not only be an injustice to the valiant soldiers who sacrificed so much for this country but a betrayal of all our people who will have to suffer the consequences of international action,” it said.
The UNP called on the government to cooperate with the UNHRC as the mandate of the team also involves investigating the atrocities carried out by the LTTE. “The Government should at least present to the investigators the crimes committed by the Tigers,” it said.
The UNP said it stands prepared to support the Government to restore the systems and institutions of democratic governance, provided it will pledge to restore the 17th Amendment and prioritize a return to civilized values and the rule of law.