Sri Lanka Investigation: OHCHR must admit or deny it printed submission forms and if monetary compensation was paid for testimonies
UNHRC and its head have been thrown off balance. OISL investigation is being questioned and rightly so when a LTTE is arrested with blank UNHRC war crimes submission forms with signatures. Pre-emptive strategies are taking place to shift the focus from what should remain 2 questions integral to the integrity and credibility of an international investigation on Sri Lanka. UNHRC head needs to only answer if UNHRC war crimes submission forms were printed in Geneva and delivered to the TNA and if monetary compensation was promised in exchange for testimonies. The GOSL and Sri Lankan Media must not rest until the UN/UNHRC answers these two crucial questions. UNHRC head can make any accusations against Sri Lanka after answering these two extremely important questions.
The un-rehabilitated LTTE cadre was arrested on 25th October 2014. He had in his possession signatures on blank UNHRC war crimes submission forms. He was collecting these on the instructions of a Tamil National Alliance political advisor (Sun Master alias Alva Pulle Vijendrakumar) now fled to India and associated with US embassy political affairs officer Mike Erwin. What is the UNHRC/LTTE/TNA and foreign envoys upto?
The GOSL should not get side-tracked into responding to accusations thrown by the OHCHR to purposely distract Sri Lanka from keeping focused to what remains a major flaw and fallacy in the process of investigating Sri Lanka and the assurance of transparency and unbiased due process.
With the arrest of the LTTE cadre who had been over a period of time collecting signatures, NICs, death certificates, photographs of disabled persons and diary entries of Tamils dead and injured during the final stages of the conflict, the Sri Lankan public have every right to know exactly how many such forms have been distributed and who has been filling these forms and what type of compensation has been thus far paid and by whom for testimonies.
The anxiety of the public necessitates that the GOSL voice these concerns at all official levels and inform the UN General Assembly of foul play taking place if Sri Lanka is led to that level.
Instead of being alarmed that blank submission forms with OHCHR logo is being distributed with entities collecting signatures that once filled by third parties is likely to create an imbalance and contribute to false testimonies and effect the impartial outcome of the report, the OHCHR Head has embarked on a tirade against Sri Lanka.
The statement issued by the new head of the UNHRC Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued on 7th November
- Criticized and condemned the Sri Lankan Government for the continuing campaign of distortion and disinformation about the investigation and insidious attempts to prevent possible bonafide witnesses from submitting information to the investigation team
Who is contributing to distortion and disinformation?
- The Sri Lankan Government did not print blank OHCHR submission forms. For highlighting the fact that blank forms are floating around with signatures and third parties are filling them and sending to OHCHR investigation team is it correct to accuse Sri Lanka of ‘continuing campaign of distortion and disinformation’?
- The Sri Lankan Government did not promise monetary compensation in exchange for testimonies – how can there be ‘bonafide witnesses’ when we do not know how many signed on blank forms and what third parties are writing and submitting as victim accounts? Sri Lanka has every right to ask exactly how many such forms did the OHCHR actually print and distribute and who are the parties outsources to fill these blank forms?
- The Sri Lankan Government did not task LTTE to collect blank signatures on UNHRC forms, collect national ID cards and death certificates or photos of injured
- The Sri Lankan Government is NOT compromising the integrity of the investigation.
- How can Sri Lanka be sabotaging an ‘impartial’ international investigation when the arrest of the LTTE cadre has revealed he was instructed by TNA advisory panel member to collect signatures on blank forms and the assurance that UN would compensate for witness testimonies. Who now is sabotaging the ‘impartial’ investigation? The only wrong that the Sri Lankan Government has done is to arrest the LTTE opening a can of worms and a pandora’s box from which dirty secrets and lies have emerged which OHCHR, US Embassy and a host of others obviously have no answers for and the easy response is to carry out a smear campaign against Sri Lanka.
- How can Sri Lanka be intimidating individuals from submitting evidence to the UN when the Sri Lankan Government does not know what is being written on the blank forms which have only signatures?
- If the OHCHR feels that the conduct of Sri Lanka in arresting and exposing an LTTE cadre with blank UNHRC logo war crimes submission forms is unacceptable conduct by a UN Member state and is against the UN Charter, the Sri Lankan Government should be more than willing to place before the UN General Assembly members all the facts related to the arrest and demand that the OHCHR reply whether it printed the forms and if it promised monetary compensation for witness testimonies.
- OHCHR Head instead of issuing statements without evidence may also like to say with examples how has Sri Lanka since 2009 continued to ‘obstruct any independent investigation despite the persistent compelling and widespread allegations that possible serious international crimes were committed’ – there is only the Panel of Expert report and some edited Channel 4 footage. Both questionable on legality and transparency.
- OHCHR Head is also plugging into his statement that civil society organizations, human rights defenders have been subject to harassment and intimidation – what does all this have to do with the arrest of the LTTEr with blank UNHRC war crimes submission forms and the genuine concern of how many forms are out there and who are filling lies and what compensation is being paid for lies too?
- On what grounds can the OHCHR head reject the accusations by Sri Lanka as ‘false and unsubstantiated’ because he can only do so AFTER he has
- ADMITTED or DENIED that OHCHR forms were printed – how many filled forms have reached the OISL investigation team and what percentage is that of the total submissions received now that the deadline is officially over (though it appears that there is an unofficial open submission timeline again for selected submissions and the UNHRC head calls Sri Lanka’s conduct ‘unprofessional’!
- ADMITTED or DENIED how many such forms OHCHR printed and whether photocopy of forms could be accepted (if there was no serial number on each form)
- ADMITTED or DENIED that monetary compensation was to be paid in exchange of witness testimonies in which case he should also say how much was promised to each and how many have been paid thus far
- On what grounds can the UNHRC head reject as ‘absurd’ the arrest of the LTTE with UNHRC blank forms because NO ONE WILL KNOW except the UNHRC head and the investigation team how many of these fraudulently filled forms in exchange for money will be used to compile the report against Sri Lanka. Excuse us but UNHRC, its Head and OISL have some serious explaining to do and simply reprimanding Sri Lanka is simply evading the issue and trying distract the focus.
- UNHRC head does not accept anything at ‘face value’ – super news. Can we then be told how can UNHRC investigators who are trained to spot fraudulent submissions know when someone signs a blank form for money and someone else fills it up? It would be interesting to know if the UNHRC adopted this blank form tactic in the other 40 Commissions of Inquiry, Fact Finding Missions held thus far. Some research into blank forms floating around in these countries would leave UNHRC head speechless no doubt but bouncing back with some accusation against countries exposing the frauds taking place!
- The UNHRC head also says it’s a ‘false equation to suggest that because someone may have been trying to submit false submissions, the inquiry is discredited’. By what logic can he say this because he and his office has thus far not revealed whether they have printed such forms, whether they promised and did pay compensation for testimonies or how many such fraudulent forms are going to be given ‘witness protection’ status and anonymity for 20 years! There is no question of ‘someone may have been trying to submit’ – we need to know how many forms were fraudulently submitted and the UNHRC does not seem to want to answer this question. Why is that?
- Let’s get to the point again. We know there are blank forms, we don’t know how many, but we do need to know if they were printed by the OHCHR office/UNHRC in Geneva, its office in Colombo or by any of its associates.
- OHCHR and its head need to stop beating about the bush and simply answer whether they printed the forms or not (directly by them or indirectly through a third party) as well as the other key component of money in exchange for witness testimonies which is a grave illegality.
- The UNHRC head has been very sharp to say that the UN had not formatted or distributed forms …. What we asked was not whether the UN had formatted forms but whether the OHCHR/UNHRC printed forms. We also did not accuse the UN of providing monetary compensation in exchange for information – we expect the OHCHR to answer not that UN did not print forms or pay compensation for information but if OHCHR printed forms and paid for compensation…very clever way to respond!
- The OISL investigation can follow whatever international standards it maintains to keep but we are more concerned about the issue of transparency and whether interviews are released or not what is important is that there is an initiative in place to get signatures on blank forms and the GOSL has every right to ask and be given an valid and acceptable response from the OHCHR head and organization that it did not have a role in it and if so what reveal how many such forms have been sent to and accepted by the OISL team. Until OHCHR head and office answers what are very basic questions it is the OHCHR head and office who are ‘obscuring’ the investigation.
- Does the OHCHR head prefer that Sri Lanka does not question the OHCHR about the blank forms, the signatures, the fraudulent submission entries and simply watch and wait till the March 2015 report is released when these submissions become the basis on which Sri Lanka is found guilty and recommended for division?
As far as Sri Lanka is concerned it should not be taken off track or diverted into responding to any of the accusations being made by the OHCHR or its head. Sri Lankan Government must just stick to demanding answers to just 2 key questions
UNHRC/OHCHR BLANK FORMS
- Did or Did the OHCHR/UNHRC office (Not the UN) print and distribute blank war crimes submission forms
- Did or Did the OHCHR/UNHRC office (Not the UN) assure and give monetary compensation for information/witness testimonies
The answer to these 2 questions will reveal how far the OISL investigation on Sri Lanka is credible or not.
– by Shenali D Waduge
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