– by Shenali D Waduge –
There is an underpinning effort made surreptitiously across the Panel of Expert report to give the impression that the 3 member team was appointed to ‘give effect to’ the joint statement made in 2009 between the Sri Lankan President and the UN Secretary General. Firstly, the Panel’s report makes a grave error in claiming that the UNSG arrived in Sri Lanka in 23 March 2009. The UNSG according to official records arrived in Sri Lanka on 23 May 2009. That was just 4 days after the LTTE was militarily defeated. The next argument is how the Panel is taking pains to project that its appointment had everything to do with a bogus joint statement that is being promoted as the reason for its appointment.
“The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances” (Nowhere does the Sri Lankan Government commit to undertaking an investigation nor does the GOSL agree to an international investigation)
When taken word for word there is no such request made by the UNSG neither is there a commitment by the GOSL to the UNSG that Sri Lanka would undertake an investigation.
The implication is that the UNSG underlined the importance of an accountability process and the GOSL replied it would take measures. The vagueness of ‘those grievances’ leaves the doors open for people to assume what they like but it does not confine to any particular grievance or grievances or that Sri Lanka would carry out an investigation.
This being the statement jointly signed by the UNSG and the GOSL who is attempting to fool Sri Lanka and the world by bogus statements made throughout reports of an undertaking by the GOSL to an international investigation and for the Panel of Experts to ensure that Sri Lanka is fulfilling that assurance.
The following are the references to the Joint-Statement by the Darusman panel
. Introduction 3: “the establishment of the Panel of Experts is in the follow-up by the Secretary-General to that joint statement”.
- Introduction 4: “The Panel’s mandate is to advise the Secretary-General on the implementation of the joint commitment with respect to the final stages of the war”.
With a very clear non-commitment in the joint statement between the UNSG and the Sri Lankan President, it is baffling how the Panel of Experts are taking great pains to project that their appointment is connected to the joint statement and their role is linked as a follow-up to ensuring Sri Lanka is committed to the joint statement.
The next surprising element is how the Panel attempts showcase that the Panel is the direct outcome of the UNSG’s statement “The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law”. and the GOSL response “The Government will take measures to address those grievances”
If our understanding of English is correct ‘underlining the importance of an accountability process’ does not equate to ordering Sri Lanka to establish an accountability process and the Government’s response that it ‘will take measures to address those grievances’ does not equate to assuring such. Besides there is no time, date mentioned.
Therefore, what mischief is the UNSG’s office upto in giving the impression to claim that ‘at this time and against this background’ the Panel was appointed. Moreover, let us also not that the LLRC was implemented in May 2010 so why would the UNSG go onto appoint his own Panel the following month (June 2010) which goes to show that the UNSG has hardly given Sri Lanka any time to run its own domestic process?
When the UNSG has every right to appoint committees to advise him (without requiring UN General Assembly or UN Security Council) approval, why was there a need to continuously establish a bogus link to the joint statement issued between himself and the Sri Lankan President? Moreover why was that ‘ADVICE’ to him given to the Sri Lankan Government and later leaked so that they could cover up illegalities?
Moreover, with so many ongoing conflicts, why has the UNSG not used his unforeseen budget to appoint other Panels to advise him on these ongoing conflicts?
The references to the Joint Statements keeps haunting the entire report
Formation of the Panel
2. ‘The purpose of the panel shall be to advise the Secretary General, on the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience relevant to the fulfillment of the joint statement to an accountability process.’
Was it not because there was some mischief that the UNSG has allocated an ‘unforeseen budget’ to fund the Panel?
The overall task of the Panel
7. “The role of the Panel is to provide advice to the Secretary General on the measures Sri Lanka has thus far taken and should, in the future take, to give effect to the joint statement of 23 May 2009 between the Secretary General and the President of Sri Lanka, with specific regard to accountability, in the light of the actual nature and scope of all allegations”. (the same reference in made in point 9)
12. “The Terms of Reference require the Panel to advise the Secretary General about the implementation of the joint statement regarding the ‘final stages of the war’.” (why has the final stages been included in inverted commas?) The Panel based its focus between September 2008 and May 2009.
The short and sweet of the argument is that that the LTTE was declared defeated on 19th May 2009. The UNSG arrived in Sri Lanka on 23rd May 2009. The same day a joint statement was released signed by the UNSG and the President of Sri Lanka. Obviously, the draft of this communiqué would have passed several hands and legal bodies of both the UN and the Sri Lankan State but no one needs to have a formal English qualification to understand that the joint statement that was released on 23rd May 2009 did not ask Sri Lanka to carry out an accountability process and neither did the Sri Lankan Government give assurance to carry out one. The UNSG ‘underlined the importance of an accountability process’ this does not mean that the UNSG demanded the Sri Lankan Government to carryout an accountability process and it also does not mean that Sri Lanka gave any assurance with dates and times when it would.
In May 2010, the Sri Lankan Government appointed the LLRC, the very next month the UNSG appoints the Panel of Experts and these experts claim that their appointment was to follow through on the joint statement and Sri Lanka’s commitment to it. There was no commitment as is very clearly evident and moreover the UNSG has shown no regard for Sri Lanka’s process which started in May 2010 by going ahead and appointing his own Panel which continuously makes wrong references to the joint statement.
The need to project the bogus nature of the appointment of the Panel, its lack of credibility is important in view of the Panel of Expert report being the foundation and basis for successive resolutions against Sri Lanka and used by even the UN Human Rights outgoing head.
“The Secretary General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances” (Nowhere does the Sri Lankan Government commit to undertaking
So we need to once again ask, what is the mischief taking place?
Let us also note that in May 28, 2008 when the EU nations called for an independent investigation of Sri Lanka that motion was rejected 29 to 12 with 6 abstentions. What has happened since and who are steering the mischief?