Sri Lanka to withdraw from co-sponsorship of UN rights body resolution on war crimes
Colombo, Feb 19: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday said that his government will withdraw from co-sponsoring a UN Human Rights Council resolution on accountability for war crimes.
His statement came days after the US imposed travel restrictions on Army chief Lt Gen Shavendra Silva and his immediate family members over alleged gross violations of human rights during the final phase of the island nation’s Civil War in 2009.
“Our government has decided to withdraw from the process of co sponsorship in relation to resolution 30-/1,” Rajapaksa said in a statement.
The resolution 30/1 on promotion on reconciliation in Sri Lanka was co-sponsored in 2015 by the then Lankan government.
Rajapaksa accused his predecessor of betraying the island’s security forces by co-sponsoring the resolution.
“It is because of the historic betrayal that other countries are able to name members of our armed forces as violators of human rights,” said Rajapaksa, who was president and commander-in-chief when Sri Lanka launched the offensive to crush the LTTE in 2009.
The 2015 resolution was based on the UNHRC report which had accused the Lankan troops of violating human rights, Rajapaksa’s statement said.
Sri Lanka’s ruling and opposition parties have strongly opposed the US move to impose the travel ban on Lt Gen Silva, saying America’s decision was based on independently unverified information.
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena last week said that Lt Gen Silva was only conducting a war against a designated terrorist group which was the LTTE.
Lt Gen Silva was appointed as the Sri Lankan Army Commander last year and previously headed the Army’s 58th Division in the final battle against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels of the civil war in 2009.
The UN rights body resolution had blamed Silva’s brigade of committing rights abuses during the final phase of the battle which ended in May 2009. Both government troops and the LTTE were accused of rights violations. The Sri Lanka Army has denied the alleged rights abuses.
The resolution 30/1 called for an independent investigation with foreign judges and prosecutors to probe war crimes allegation.
According to a United Nations report, some 45,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the last months of the war alone.