British Tamils staged a protest outside the UK Foreign Office earlier Yesterday(16), calling on Britain not to grant Sri Lanka any further extension on a UN resolution and instead to pursue an international accountability mechanism to obtain justice for genocide.
Protestors held banners calling for international prosecutions in solidarity with Tamil protests across the North-East, where demands are being made that the UN refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court.
Though Sri Lanka co-sponsored a UN resolution in 2015 which mandated an accountability mechanism with foreign involvement to prosecute those accused of violating international law, no such process has been set up. Instead Sri Lanka looks likely to secure another two year extension on implementing the resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next week.
Almost a decade has passed since the Sri Lankan military launched a massive military offensive that saw tens of thousands of Tamils massacres and large scale violations of international law.
The protest in London follows statements by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights which has raised concerns over Sri Lanka’s ability to abide by these commitments. The ICJ has described Sri Lanka’s progression as “wholly insufficient” and attributed successes made to the “continued engagement of the Council, OHCHR and the international community”.
In a similar vein, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that there has been “virtually no progress” on investigations of war crimes and hold perpetrators accountable. Both the ICJ and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have maintained a hybrid accountability mechanism is necessary to ensure transitional justice.
Sri Lankan officials have responded to these statements by denying the need for the involvement of foreign judges and raising questions on the need to maintain commitment to resolution 30/1. Amongst them has been Sri Lanka’s president Maithripala Sirisena, who said he would work to see that the resolution is withdrawn. Colombo papers also reported that Sri Lanka’s Leader of the House, Minister Lakshman Kiriella reassured parliament that foreign judges would not hear cases within a war crimes inquiry.