Navi Pillay's Troika of experts have least interest in Sri Lanka
The Troika of experts appointed by UN Human Rights High Commissioner
Navi Pillay to advise the UN investigation team on Sri Lanka seems to
have been hand picked by the High Commissioner herself in her mission to
punish Sri Lanka's security forces, a senior diplomat opined.
Speaking to Sunday Observer he said the news of the selection of Asma
Jahangir, a leading Pakistani lawyer and a minority rights activist by
the UNHR High Commissioner came soon after the Beruwala and Aluthgama
incidents which received unprecedented coverage from international
Asma Jahangir is one of three experts appointed by Navi Pillay to
advise her team appointed to look into alleged human rights violations
during the war on terrorism against the LTTE and after.
Supposedly hailing from Pakistan's Ahmadi minority, Jahangir's father
had been imprisoned on several occasions 'for his outspoken views, which
included denouncing the Pakistani government for genocide during their
military action in what is now Bangladesh' web sources reveal.
Jahangir as an activist and former Chairperson of the Human Rights
Commission of Pakistan had been organising protests on behalf of women
rights, child rights as well as persecuted religious minorities.
She was once UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Arbitrary and
Summary Executions and later served as a UN Special Rapporteur on
Freedom of Religion or Belief.
"If their personal biases would affect the work that they have been
called upon to perform, that will be detrimental to Sri Lanka's interest
and if so we could only guess that their findings will be a foregone
conclusion, he said.
The second expert chosen by Pillay is former President of Finland and
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Martti Ahtisaari, who has also served as a
UN diplomat and mediator.
After major riots erupted in Kosovo in March 2004 in their fight for
independence from Serbia, in 2005 then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
appointed a senior Norwegian diplomat to produce a comprehensive report
on the situation. The Norwegian diplomat recommended the start of status
talks. Later Martti Ahtisaari was appointed by Annan to oversee these
talks. In 2007, he presented a report with proposals for an independent
While Britain France and the United States endorsed the proposal,
Russia rejected it on the grounds that the solution had been imposed on
The senior diplomat said it is questionable as to why Pillay goes on
to pick people of such background. Jahangir is a controversial person,
just like Yasmin Sooka and Darusman. "She is a persona non-grata to at
least two countries. Martti Ahtisaari on the other hand has been
instrumental in the Kosovo cessation."
The only expert the High Commissioner has picked without so much of a
tainted past is Dame Silvia Cartwright, former Governor-General and High
Court judge of New Zealand.
She was one of the two international judges who took part in
Cambodia's War crimes Tribunal where she served as a trial judge. The
tribunal was founded to investigate the slaughter of 1.7 million
Cambodians by Khmer Rouge guerrilla's and bring those guilty of crimes
against humanity to book.
Cartwright is a former member of the UN Committee for the Elimination
of Discrimination against Women.
'The troika appointed by the High Commissioner will play a supportive
and advisory role, providing advice and guidance as well as independent
verification throughout the investigation,' the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights website said.
The High Commissioner was quoted in the website saying "Each of them
brings not only great experience and expertise, but the highest
standards of integrity, independence, impartiality and objectivity to
The Investigation Team with whom they will work will consist of 12
staff, including investigators, forensics experts, a gender specialist,
a legal analyst and various other staff with specialised skills. It will
be operational for a period of 10 months (up to mid-April 2015).
"By judging the way it is taking shape so far, one cannot help but
think this is being engineered and designed having anything but Sri
Lanka and its people's interest in mind. How much faith can we have on
their investigation and its outcome?" the senior diplomat questioned.
He said if the international community wanted to help Sri Lanka, it
should assist the domestic process of implementing the LLRC
recommendations and the National Human Rights Action Plan which aspires
to reconcile the communities and create a trilingual Sri Lanka, without
putting together intrusive external investigation mechanisms and
conspiring to destabilise the country.
"Once again, I encourage the Government and people of Sri Lanka to
cooperate fully with this investigation which can help shed light on the
truth, and advance accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka," the
High Commissioner had said. She added that the investigation would still
go ahead undeterred if such cooperation was not forthcoming.
Britain and the US too lost no time after Pillay's statement in
asking Sri Lanka to cooperate with the investigation. Sri Lanka has
rejected their call.
The senior diplomat endorsed this stance adding," Any kind of
cooperation will be lending unnecessary credibility to the UN Human
Rights High Commissioner's intrusive mechanism.
We have rejected the US resolution that proposed this UN team of
investigators in March this year in Geneva. We cannot backtrack now."
He said, "If this is an act of help why is it that they have to force
it down our throats," adding that their intentions were quite clear and
the Government cannot lend cooperation to any attempt that is inimical
to Sri Lanka's interests.