People gather near the US embassy in Colombo to protest calls for a UN investigation on alleged war crimes
A Buddhist nationalist party has lashed out at critics of the government who have filed a petition with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) seeking an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the government.
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) said last week that the petition, sent by a group of Catholic priests, violated the constitution.
The petition was filed by Bishop Rayappu Joseph and 30 other clerics earlier this month, asking the UNHRC to accept the appointment of and fully cooperate with an international, independent and effective mechanism to monitor and address accountability issues not dealt with by the LLRC.
Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe, JHU spokesman, said the petition violated the nation’s constitution and Bishop Joseph had acted against Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.
“We urge the government to take the bishop before the law for acting against a sovereign nation,” Warnasinghe said on March 11.
He added that the petition also contradicted an earlier position of the Sri Lankan Catholic Church on the issue.
Church leaders had previously called on the government to implement the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation (LLRC) report and to fulfill its “relevant obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.”
The Church further requested a comprehensive action plan that detailed the steps the government has taken will take in the future to implement the LLRC recommendations and establish an independent and international monitoring mechanism.
“At least now, we urge the UNHRC to act decisively in relation to Sri Lanka, to enable Sri Lanka to move towards genuine reconciliation,” Bishop Joseph wrote in the petition to UNHRC.
“Given the consistent denial of the Sri Lankan government about the scale and nature of war-time abuses as well as pre-war and post-war concerns, we believe it is an independent international body that could best address concerns of truth-seeking, accountability and reparations for victims.”
The church’s request to implement Sri Lanka's domestic LLRC and its findings was also in the draft resolution presented to the UNHRC last week.
Sri Lanka Bishops’ Conference says it is firm on its demand from the government to urgently implement its report on three decades long war.
“We have clearly stated that the government-prepared accountability report has to be implemented soon,” said Father Benedict Joseph, who serves as director for social communication for the Sri Lankan Bishops' Conference.
He added that the Church also firmly stands behind earlier calls by the Bishops’ Conference to implement the LLRC recommendations.
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