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The Paranagama and the Geneva Reports: Attempts to Mislead the Public – Pt 1 contd.,

  • Question 10:

The Government has alleged that the Paranagama Report agrees with the Channel 4 video allegations.   Is that true?

  • Answer

Not at all.  It is a deliberate misreading of the Paranagama Report.   At paragraph 428, the Paranagama Report states explicitly “ the authenticity of the video footage is not an issue that the Commission can resolve…”.

If, of course, the authenticity of the video is proved, that would establish a prima facia case.   The Paranagama Commission goes on to advocate that there should be a proper judicial inquiry.

Indeed the very same was suggested by the LLRC report, which called for an independent investigation.      Thus to say that the Paranagama Commission has validated the genuineness of the Channel 4 footage is false.  Because if it had, what would be the necessity to call for an inquiry to ascertain the authenticity of the footage?   Indeed the Paranagama Commission criticizes Channel 4 in paragraph 432 (page 105) for failing to supply the original film footage.  Why would the Paranagama Commission do this, if it had accepted the film footage as authentic?

 

  • Question 11

What is the link between the OISL report and the Darusman Report with respect to the gravity of the allegations made against Sri Lanka?

  • Answer

The answer to this question is to be found in paragraph 22 (page 8) of the OISL report which reads as follows:    “ Another key source of information was the United Nation’s Secretary General’s panel of experts headed by Mazuki Darusmann with experts Yasmin Sooka and Steven Ratner.”

Thus, it is quite clear, that the OISL report is firmly grounded in the grave allegations made by the Darusman Report.   Therefore it raises the question as to why the Paranagama Commission 2nd Mandate Report which dealt with most of the allegations in the Darusman Report was not tabled in Geneva by the Government.

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OHCHR:

Bigger representation urged for developing nations

by Manjula Fernando

A resolution calling for enhanced geographical representation in the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), to ensure fair treatment for developing states, was passed at the UN Human Rights Council last week.

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha a member of the Sri Lankan delegation to the 19th session of the UNHCR, commenting on this positive development said, “The resolution about the staff of the OHCHR, which was passed by an overwhelming majority, is of immense importance to all developing countries”.

He said at present OHCHR is dominated by personnel from developed countries, who are not concerned with the Economic and Social and Cultural Rights of developing nations, in particular the Right to Development, which are of crucial importance to countries like Sri Lanka.

The resolution introduced by Cuba last week was adopted by a vote of 33 in favour, 12 against and two abstentions.

The US which spoke against the resolution voted it down saying the UN Human Rights Council was not competent to make recommendations on the composition of the staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Hungary speaking on behalf of EU expressed similar sentiments and it too voted against the resolution with the US.

Prof. Wijesinha said “for many years now there has been great concern about the imbalance in the OHCHR.”

There has been debate that the composition was not just a question of Western domination in UN bodies, but also a problem that many of the recent recruits came from NGO backgrounds and they may work to the priorities of those NGOs, especially those that lived by advocacy critical of particular countries.

He said there were instances where junior UN staff flouted UN rules, and countermanded the statements of their seniors, by collecting and publicizing information adverse to Sri Lanka, often without checking of evidence and sources.

Sri Lanka raised this issue of composition in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on many previous occasions and blamed this ‘flaw’ for the lack of objectivity it has shown in dealing with Sri Lanka.

He said, “When the UN system is dominated by a particular set of attitudes, sometimes encouraged by countries that want to play power politics through the system, the dice are loaded against poorer countries.”

He said most countries have realised this flaw and the voting on the Resolution made it clear.

“When the problem is compounded by Western domination of the media, and the easy transformation of NGO activists in poorer countries into anti-governmental propagandists, the stage is set for Western agendas to find easy fulfilment. “

He said Sri Lanka needs to work together with like-minded countries to ensure that this Resolution finds fulfilment.

He emphasised that Sri Lanka must work with other SAARC countries to develop better programs in Developmental Administration and in International Relations for government officials, to provide the knowledge and the negotiating skills that will strengthen SAARC members in dealing with a rapidly changing world order.

Rajiva Wijesinha

June 2019
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