Barring pro-government Tamil parties, most of the Tamil political parties representing the war-affected Tamils in the North and East of the island nation have unanimously welcomed the oral statement of the Deputy High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the culture of impunity and lack of accountability in her latest report last week to the Council.

Nada Al-Nashif, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights in her oral presentation said, “Accountability remains the fundamental gap in attempts to deal with the past. As long as impunity prevails, Sri Lanka will achieve neither genuine reconciliation nor sustainable peace”.

Leaders of Tamil political parties say, although successive Sri Lankan governments have been going back on their commitments given to international bodies including the UN on war crimes accountability and hoodwinking the local Tamil public, the present oral presentation at the UNHRC is a reassuring and welcome step.

“Looking holistically, we would like to welcome the report. The reason behind this is, in spite of demands that accountability measures have to be taken nothing has moved forward and no developments in that regard has happened and that has been said strongly,” Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, Jaffna district MP and leader of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) said to local media.

He further said the Sri Lankan government has been misleading and misinterpreting the local and international community on transitional justice

“Even though an Office of Missing Persons (OMP) was established, its true intentions were never achieved, nor any efforts were taken to achieve that. They have registered their views in such a manner. Even though no development took place regarding accountability the Sri Lanka government was creating a pseudo image that things were happening on the transitional justice front through the OMP”.

Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam added the comments of the UNHRC Deputy Commissioner “as an important aspect”.

Tamil National Alliance spokesperson and another Jaffna MP M.A.Sumanthiran too welcomes the observation of the deputy chief of UNHRC. Stressing that accountability is vital for moving forward, he says that his alliance agrees with her that the state should directly acknowledge past violations.

“Fundamentally, it is and remains the responsibility of the Sri Lankan authorities to directly acknowledge past violations and undertake credible investigations and prosecutions, alongside other accountability measures. However, as long as this “accountability deficit” remains accepted principles of universal and extraterritorial jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute alleged perpetrators, support to the relevant accountability processes in third States, as well as fair application of targeted sanctions against credibly alleged perpetrators,” Sumanthiran retweeted the quote from Al Nashif.

Former Chief Minister of the Northern Province and the lone MP of the Tamil People’s National Alliance C.V. Wigneswaran says he and his party fully agree with the Deputy High Commissioner.

“Unless the past is accepted the future is not bright and the culture of impunity must end. If the government drags its feet on accountability then it is walking on fire," he said.

Former MP and co-leader of the five-party group, Democratic Tamil National Alliance Suresh Premachandran says the observations of the UNHRC is a stark warning to the Sri Lanka government.

While the UN and other world bodies have been soft-pedaling the issue for as long as successive governments have been taking them for a ride, now the warning is straight and clear and any further delay in accountability will invite international intervention, he observed.

Pro-government Tamil parties like the EPDP, TMVP, and Tamil MPs part of the ruling coalition have remained tight-lipped on the oral observations of the Deputy High Commissioner of the UNHRC.


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