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ICC referral, Sri Lanka’s economic crisis & 13th Amendment - TG speaks with TELO spokesperson

Speaking to the Tamil Guardian this week at the 51st session of UNHRC, Koorrusuwaahmy Sorrenthiran, the spokesperson for the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), reiterates calls for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal court (ICC) as well as emphasising the need for self-determination for Tamils.  

Tamils have been calling for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) but “that portion is missing” from the draft resolution that was made public earlier this week. Sorrenthiran noted that the draft resolution talks about Sri Lanka’s financial crimes which he believes “can discredit Sri Lanka” and could lead to a “justice process” but added that it is unknown how that mechanism would operate. 

When asked whether he believes the resolution will achieve accountability or if it is another time buying exercise for the Sri Lankan government, he replied: 

“Our strong belief is not to concentrate on the resolution clauses, instead follow the recommendations by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 46/1, including the referral to ICC and look into universal jurisdiction. 

If the final resolution does not include this criteria then it can be considered as a “time buying measure.” 

During the interactive dialogue earlier this week, India called on Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment, delegate powers to the provincial councils and hold elections for the provincial councils.

The call comes despite Tamils rejecting the 13th Amendment as a political solution and have demanded recognition of their nationhood, self-determination, and sovereignty.

Commenting on India’s statement, Sorrenthiran said: 

“13th Amendment has never been accepted as a political solution by the Tamil community ever.”  

“Even from the time it was brought, the 13th Amendment was not a political solution. We have clearly expressed that to India on various occasions,” he added. 

He further added that India has a “fascination” with the 13th Amendment. While the 13th Amendment is not a political solution, “it can be implemented for the time being in full to safeguard our lands, our ethnic composition and to undertake our own development activities.”

When asked what actions the international community can take to hold Sri Lanka accountable for its human rights violations, Sorrenthiran told Tamil Guardian that the international community “has to come with strong footing on referring Sri Lanka to an international legal mechanism” like the ICC.  

He highlighted that as Sri Lanka is currently experiencing an economic crisis and seeking international financial assistance, the international community must utilise economic concessions to force Sri Lanka “to embark on an ethnic solution, accountability, reconciliation and justice process.”

Sri Lanka's human rights situation is currently being discussed at the UNHRC. A draft resolution was made public earlier this week which called for the "re-energising" of failed Sri Lankan mechanisms ignoring long-standing calls from Tamils for a referral to the ICC. 

The resolution also calls for the extension and reinforcement of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights capacity to "collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve" information which could be used in future war crimes trials. 

The resolution calls on Sri Lanka to underscore the "importance of addressing underlying governance factors and root causes which have contributed to this crisis including deepening militarisation, lack of accountability in governance and impunity for serious human rights violations and abuses."

Member states will vote on the resolution before the sessions ends on October 7,2022. 




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