Sri Lanka withdraws from UNHRC resolution on war crimes
The Government of Sri Lanka formally notified the United Nations on February 26, 2020 that it is withdrawing from a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution for investigating alleged war crimes. The case was dealing with a decade-old clash with Tamil separatists.
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena informed UNHRC that Sri Lanka has decided to withdraw from the co-sponsorship of UNHRC’s resolution 40/1 on promoting accountability, reconciliation and human rights.
Sri Lanka’s Decision
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the government will not abide by a 2015 resolution anymore that calls for accountability for alleged excesses carried out by Sri Lankan forces and reparations for victims.
Sri Lanka and 11 other countries co-sponsored the UNHRC resolution for the investigation of wartime violence by Tamil Tiger rebels and Government forces. Tamil Tiger rebels were demanding a separate homeland. Tamil Tigers were claiming that they are ethnic Tamil minority and deserve a separate homeland for their entire community.
Earlier, the US government has imposed a travel ban on Sri Lanka’s army commander, Shavendra Silva (along with family) for alleged human rights violations during the civil war in 2009.
Allegations on Shavendra Silva
According to the report published by UN high commissioner for human rights in 2015, Silva had been tasked with freeing Puthumathalan. The investigation team found that he was leading a team of Army that shelled a hospital and a unit of the United Nations. However, Silva denied these allegations in his statement to a government-appointed commission.
Sri Lankan forces defeated Tamil Tigers in 2009 but other right groups of Sri Lanka accused the state forces of killing thousands of Tamil people in the final stages of Sri Lankan civil war. Mahinda Rajapaksa was the president of Sri Lanka at that time while Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the defence secretary.
The Sri Lankan government ended the war on May 18, 2009 by killing Velupillai Prabhakaran, the head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in a coastal village in Mullaitivu. This civil war was mainly fought in the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka. At least 1,00,000 people were killed in the conflict lasting more than three decades.