The UNHCR has put forward its resolution on Sri Lanka. Earlier it had 28 points. The watered resolution has only 20 points. It is also reported that the word ‘Hybrid’ is removed from the document. The resolution was adopted unanimously without leaving an opportunity for a vote. But all these do not guarantee that the country is free from the challenge of a war crimes probe and accountability issues. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka has come forward to co-sponsor the resolution. That looks a bit ridiculous, because no country in the world will ever co-sponsor a resolution against its own name. Wickremesinghe went on to state that, hereafter, the country is free from international pressure. How can he say that? The resolution itself is international pressure. Co-sponsorship itself justifies that you are allowing or leaving room for another group to intervene in the process.
The government is facing a major challenge by accepting the task to probe war crimes through a domestic mechanism with the participation of international judges and legislators. Will this be a foreign dominated local mechanism or local dominated local mechanism? The question remains unanswered to-date
The resolution which was adopted without a vote clearly shows that it leaves room for international interference. How do you implement an investigation mechanism with international judges and still do it keeping with the Constitution of the country? How does it comply with a local ruling system? This is a serious question which remains unanswered. Here a moderate citizen will raise the question as to who decides the composition of the judges’ panel. If there are international judges and legislators involved in the process, who will have the authority to control the panel? Will they recognize the local legal system? How will the investigation process be conducted?
One thing is true. In Sri Lanka, the common masses are driven by words and phrases. They are very much sensitive to words. There was a time when the word “Federal System” became popular; it elicited many protests from different quarters. Then, the government immediately changed the word to “Devolving powers under United Sri Lanka”. That had somewhat smoothed the conflicting minds. Similarly, here, a big fuss has been made regarding the word ‘Hybrid’. A majority of the population rejected the hybrid call. Immediately the administrators made valiant efforts to change the word or remove it from the resolution. They succeeded in that attempt as well. So, Sri Lanka is best described as a “war of words”.
The Prime Minster once said that Sri Lanka is a new country now. Sri Lanka now ensures democracy, transparency, accountability and a corruption free environment. These are attractive words to hear. But, we need to assess the situation through practical means. A moderate citizen will question whether these attributes are really implemented. How can you talk about democracy when defeated candidates are appointed through the National List and nepotism is practiced at the highest level? The new approach of nepotism is to appoint a defeated candidate through the National List and offer him a powerful ministry portfolio.
Nepotism will definitely lead to large scale corruption. This is the major allegation put forward by the Maithri-Ranil government against the Rajapaksa regime. Having stated that the earlier regime promoted a bad practice, can you follow the same practice? It will become a big joke. Where is the transparency in the US resolution? Without passing the RTI (Right To Information) Bill, can you talk about transparency? Without probing the war crimes and bringing the culprits to justice, can you talk about accountability?
Can Ranil Wickramasinghe show accountability by simply putting various allegations against the Rajapaksa regime? Will the people accept Wickremesinghe’s statement on accountability? I think people of this nation are not fools to believe this rubbish. If you are genuine about democracy, accountability and transparency then show them through action. Otherwise, moderate citizens will not acknowledge claims made by the authorities that major changes have given rise to a new country. Instead they might say there is no difference between this government and the previous government. Or sometimes they might feel that the previous regime was better than the present one. So, it looks like the present government is struggling to justify the change on made on January 8. The government is facing a major challenge by accepting the task to probe war crimes through a domestic mechanism with the participation of international judges and legislators. Will this be a foreign dominated local mechanism or local dominated local mechanism? The question remains unanswered to date.
The government should have a proper strategy to investigate the human rights issue. The term ‘Human Rights Issue’ has been referred to as ‘War Crimes’ in some media. Sometimes the word or the phrase itself shows the severity of the crime and necessity for an international interference. But, the government should have a reliable mechanism first to convince the international community. While probing the war crimes, the government should be very careful in handling the sensitive issues. It has to be done in such a way that the country benefits from the process and equal rights and unity are maintained among the conflicting communities. The country cannot afford to oppose these investigations. The probe should be looked upon as a lesson which will in turn help to arrive at a permanent solution to the root causes of this ‘war’. But the real motive of the international judges is still not known. The government should take the full responsibility of taking this domestic investigation mechanism to the next stage and use this as an instrument to strengthen the unity among the communities and achieve a sustainable peace. All these positive things are good to listen to, but they are yet to produce an outcome.