Vice President meets Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa during UN General Assembly

Vice President Dr Mohammed Waheed Hassan has paid a courtesy call on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The Vice President’s Office later refuted reports that Dr Waheed discussed the Sri Lankan human rights situation with Rajapaksa during the meeting, following media reports quoting Sri Lankan officials to the contrary.

Haveeru on Tuesday quoted a senior Sri Lankan official as saying that during a meeting between Rajapaksa and the Vice President, Dr Waheed “assured that he will be supporting Sri Lanka’s stance on the human rights issue.”

The Vice President’s office later claimed the meeting was a courtesy call during which Dr Waheed said it was refreshing to  hear the Sri Lankan President talk about trade unions and north-south cooperation in his speech [to the UN], and that there was “no mention of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka is currently conducting an internal investigation of these allegations, which refer to acts of violence committed by both government and rebel forces in the final phases of Sri Lanka’s civil war.

Numerous human rights groups, including Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), have rejected Sri Lanka’s investigation on the grounds that its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) does not meet international standards.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has reported that human rights groups found the commission flawed because “its members were appointed by the government, it has no real mandate to investigate war crimes in the last stages of the conflict, lacks any mechanism to protect witnesses and falls short of minimum international standards of a commission of inquiry.”

The Sri Lankan government has denied committing any offenses. The Maldivian government said it supports Sri Lanka’s wish to solve internal issues without external involvement.

Today, the Maldives President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair issued a statement expressing support for the Tamil people.

“The President of the Maldives would like to express his good wishes to all Tamil people. The Tamil people have always been like brothers to Maldivians. The President would like to see peace and harmony in our region and has expressed his desire for all people to live peacefully together.”

Human Rights Watch recently applauded the Maldives as one of the seven most important countries on the UN Human Rights Council. It expressed puzzled concern, however, over the Maldives’ “regrettable” support of Sri Lanka at this time.

“The Maldives should revisit its approach on Sri Lanka in order to bring it in line with its otherwise principled approach to human rights at the Council,” said the report.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem said he did not wish to comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon has appointed a panel to advise him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka, reports the BBC. The Sri Lankan government rejected the panel, however, and said it would not issue visas to UN panel members visiting Sri Lanka.

The UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) today said they are urging Sri Lanka “to ensure there is a genuine accountability process to address the serious violations believed to have been committed during the last months of the  war in Sri Lanka.”  The OHCHR is waiting to see how member states take action on the issue, “but, of course, the United Nations hopes Maldives – like other UN members – will encourage Sri Lanka to address this important issue.”

Late last week, President Mohamed Nasheed met with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Disanayaka Mudiyanselage Jayaratne regarding the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, due to be held in Addu City in November. The heads of state also discussed ways to strengthen ties between the two countries.

The SAARC summit could afford the Maldives an opportunity to promote human rights in south asia, a region that is reportedly slower than others to adopt international human rights standards.

The Maldives recently became the 118th member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a close partner of the UN.

“As a chair of the SAARC summit, Maldives will have quite an influence on South Asian countries attending this year’s event,” she said previously. “It will certainly be constructive in reviewing human rights, a key point we plan to address at the summit.”

Evelyn Balais-Serrano, Asia-Pacific Coordinator for the ICC’s advocacy NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), called the Maldives’ accession to the Rome Statute a significant step for human rights in south asia.

She noted that Sri Lanka is “a long way” from membership at the ICC.

ICC membership requires the Maldives to uphold ICC standards and rulings. “The Maldives cannot do anything if the ICC decides to investigate and put into trial the perpetrators of crimes in Sri Lanka,” said Balais-Serrano. “If suspected criminals from Sri Lanka seek refuge in the territory of the Maldives, as a state party to the ICC, the government is obliged to cooperate with the Court by arresting  the criminals.”

Sri Lanka’s findings are due for release on November 15.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect a clarification from the Vice President’s Office that human rights were not discussed at the meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.


11 thoughts on “Vice President meets Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa during UN General Assembly”

  1. "The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has reported that human rights groups found the commission flawed because “its members were appointed by the government, it has no real mandate to investigate war crimes in the last stages of the conflict, lacks any mechanism to protect witnesses and falls short of minimum international standards of a commission of inquiry.”

    For a moment I thought BBC were about the Hutton Inquiry and Chilcot Inquiry in the UK. I am sure that the members of these inquires were appointed by the British Government and the end result was that it became a whitewash for the British Government.

    Why is there a different standard for the Brown or Black man? This is purely and simply racism.

  2. it is not the issue of black or brown. the issue is humanism. when others are not following Human Rghts, it doesnt gives you a free hand to abuse & kill your own people. Sri Lankan authorities could not extricate themselves from war crimes on any pretext.... they have to face a trail in ICC.

  3. What is required here is to establish a “one standard” and treat all members of the UN equally. Those Western countries that find fault with Sri Lanka on violation of Human Rights do the same on a daily basis i.e.: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and then keep instigating trouble around the world to their advantage. Then also, the very Western nations keep mum about the so called “conduct” of countries like China, Russia, North Korea; as the West is unable to flex its muscles just because such countries could retaliate the West economically as well as militarily. No wonder why the “have-nots” align with the underdogs. Unfortunately though, the West will have to learn not to meddle with internal matters of countries such as Sri Lanka in a bitter way by having to deal with regional powers.

  4. Where is the West – USA, UK, EU and the like sitting on such issues like this? Is that is what is called human rights violations or oil-power?
    A Saudi woman to be lashed for defying driving ban
    BBC reports that Saudi women will soon be allowed to vote but driving remains a banned activity
    A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a woman to 10 lashes for breaking the country's ban on female drivers.
    The woman, identified only as Shema, was found guilty of driving in Jeddah in July.
    Women2drive, which campaigns for women to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, says she has already lodged an appeal.
    In recent months, scores of women have driven vehicles in Saudi cities in an effort to put pressure on the monarchy to change the law.
    The sentence comes two days after the Saudi leader King Abdullah announced women would be allowed to vote for the first time in 2015.
    Two other women are due to appear in court later this year on similar charges, correspondents say.

  5. Every one who has a brain can understand that Sri Lanka did a war against TERRORISM and eradicated it. Now those defeated LTTE TERRORIST are trying to spoil the country again by these fake allegations.

  6. tck, get some knowledge before you start talking about ICC etc. There is no chance Sri Lanka can be put forward to the ICC as they are not members.
    Sri Lanka defeated the most brutal terror organisation in the World and good for them.
    There is no way anyone can prove about human right violations by a State in this case. Just because soldiers have committed crimes, the State is not responsible unless they can prove that State ordered the violations.
    Now in Sri Lanka's case, the only allegations are the shooting of some people by men who are wearing the uniforms of the Sri Lankan army and some allegation of shelling hospitals.
    Now there is no proof about any of these things and unless Channel 4 provides the evidence that would hold up in a court of law there is nothing legally anyone could do.
    This is actually black and brown. The West has killed hundreds of thousands of people by invading Iraq and have tortured and killed civilians and yet no country has been prosecuted at all and yet they are going after Sri Lanka.

  7. It is much better for Maldives to stay with Sri Lanka rather than western world which shed crocadile tears on human rights in other countries.
    Sri Lanka get rid of Tamil Tiger terrorists and now a free country. West does not like small countries get rid of their problems because when there are troubles in the countries it is easy for them to handle those countries and manipulate the way they want. HRW never criticise US rights violations.

  8. Varun Selvanathan wrote:

    "Every one who has a brain can understand that Sri Lanka did a war against TERRORISM and eradicated it. Now those defeated LTTE TERRORIST are trying to spoil the country again by these fake allegations"

    Fake allegations? These allegations were made by none other than the Sri-Lankan General that led the Sri-Lankan forces. Perhaps he has no brain?
    Sri-Lanka keeps getting caught telling lies over and over again, this time with respect to the Maldivian President who has disavowed the words Sri-Lanka put in his mouth. Anyone who has a brain can see clearly that Sri-Lankan LIES, STATE TERRORISM(Grease devils, army attacks on TNA,destruction of shrines, etc.) is alive and well and needs to be eradicated soon.

  9. Varun:

    What started up with "zero" civilian casualties ended up with statements to the opposite. If the SL regime has nothing to hide, why not call for an independent inquiry and not the sham one (LLRC) being conducted now? They have already started sweating when a civil suit was filed against the dep UN rep. The Swiss attache has been recalled to SL because of a proposed criminal action.

  10. Jansee why is it that Sri Lanka has to have an International Inquiry? Why not for UK and USA? Let them finish their inquiry first and if that is not open and transparent then the International Agencies can get involved.

    The question that has to be asked is "did the Sri Lankan Government deliberately kill civilians"?
    Not "did civilians die in the shelling by the Sri Lankan government"
    As for recalling their Swiss Attache, there could be no criminal action against any Accredited Diplomat in any country unless the other country waive their rights even if they commit murder.There is no way even a civil suit can be processed in the USA if Sri Lanka objects as US courts have no legal right over accredited Diplomats under the agreement the US government has with the UN.

  11. What about the state of Israel and their blatant violations of human rights

    The USA what they did in afganistan and Iraq

    Justice please


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