Nepal’s thumbs down to probe rights abuses in Sri Lanka civil war by UN team


(Extract from THE KATHMANDU POST, JUNE 10 lead story)

Nepal has sided with Sri Lanka and other countries to defeat a May 27 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution tabled by the European governments at the 11th Special Session of HRC calling for an independent investigation of violations of human rights by both the military and the LTTE in Sri Lanka. On the same HRC, Nepal also voted for the Sri Lanka-authored resolution, which declared that the outcome of the Sri Lankan war -- which reportedly killed over 20,000 -- was an "internal matter" and denied an UN investigation.

Though the resolution has condemned LTTE for attacks on civilians, it has spoken not a single word in reference to allegations about human rights abuses by the Lankan government.


This has raised Nepalese human rights defenders' eyebrows. They have held that since Nepal does not have its own independent say at the UN because of the Indian lobby, the government was forced to support the Sri Lanka resolution.


However, according sources, Nepal's support to Sri Lanka resolution was part of a bilateral deal. The UML-led government agreed to support Sri Lanka at the HRC only after a high-level diplomatic negotiation between the two countries, said a senior govt. official. "The EU group was irked by Sri Lankan government's repeated rejection of mediation offered by countries like Norway and the excessive use of force to wipe out LTTE in its last battle. So they had planned to try Mahinda Rajapaksa at the International Criminal Court and its natural that Nepal sided with Lanka."


Sri Lankan Embassy in Kahmandu confirmed that Sri Lanka had promised to support Nepal in similar circumstances.


In his statement to HRC, Nepal's permanent representative to UN Dr. Dinesh Bhattarai had remarked, "It is time to be constructively cooperative and pragmatically sensitive to help politically consolidate and institutionalize the gains made from the victory over terrorism o Sri Lanka"


It is worth noting that Nepal supported Sri Lanka resolution after the political change. However UML sources deny any hidden intention behind the government decision to support Lanka. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal after his resignation as prime minister has been publicly announcing that the new collation is conspiring to make Maoists another LTTE.


National Human Rights Council, however, declined to make any comment stating that the issues is beyond is jurisprudence. OHCHR-Nepal also denied any response at a time the entire 47-member HRC has received widespread criticism for failing to stand for protection of human rights in Sri Lanka despite repeated pleas from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanatham Pillay.


National and international human rights watchdogs, including US-based Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Advocacy Forum Nepal Chapter have flayed the UN move to pass Sri Lanka resolution as "deeply flawed".


Sri Lanka's resolution received 29 affirmative votes, including that of Nepal, at the 47-member Council with only 12 voting against and 6 countries abstaining. The 47-member UNHRC is comprised of seven Western democracies, 26 Asian and African countries -- majority of which are known for their blatant restriction of political and civil liberties -- and 14 Latin American and Eastern European countries.


The powerful countries including India, China, Cuba, Russia, and Islamic states had supported Sri Lanka in defeating the European bid to have an internal investigation into alleged war crimes by both sides in the civil war.

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