8 Oct
2019

Wigneswaran mulls NPC war crimes accountability mechanism

Thavarajah said that going by the lack of interest in pursuing cases such as the Vattakandaal school massacre case, there is little or no hope that an impartial accountability mechanism will be set up. Hence the demand for a Provincial Council initiative, he said.Thavarajah said that he wanted to hold the memorial function on January 30, 2015 after the hawkish President Mahinda Rajapaksa was replaced by the more moderate Maithripala Sirisena in the January 8, 2015 Presidential election. But he could not. The plan to hold it in 2016 also had to be abandoned, this time  because of his mother’s demise. (Colombo Gazette) The Chief Minister of the Northern Province C V Wigneswaran has suggested that the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) explore the legal possibility of instituting its own independent war crimes accountability mechanism in the absence of an international judicial mechanism recommended by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in September 2015.Wigneswaran said this while speaking at a function in Vattakandaal Tamil Mixed School in Mannar district, where 60 to 70 people including Principal V.Sundaramoorthy and teachers T.Mahendiran and S.Ratnadurai were gunned down by the Sri Lanka Army on January 30, 1985. Explaining the circumstances under which the Chief Minister made the suggestion, Thavarajah said it has been 32 years since the Vattakandaal massacre had taken place, but till date there is no inquiry and punishment for the army troops who had perpetrated the atrocity.It has been two years since the UNHRC passed a resolution with Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship, recommending a judicial war crimes accountability mechanism with the participation of international judges, prosecutors and investigators, but  the Sri Lankan government has repeatedly ruled out international participation. The Chief Minister asked the Leader of the Opposition in the NPC, Sinnadurai Thavarajah, who is also a lawyer, to look into the legal aspect of his proposal and report. The memorial function was organized by Thavarajah as his sister’s husband was among those massacred in the school. Thavarajah told Express later that he would look into the Chief Minister’s proposal  before making his recommendation. read more

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2 Oct
2019

Somalia UN mission pledges support as new President will face daunting challenges

“We […] look forward to working with him and his Government in tackling the many economic, political, security and humanitarian challenges facing Somalia,” UNSOM Spokesperson Joseph Contreras told UN News after the presidential polling, which followed a nearly 18 month exercise that included an extended parliamentary electoral process.“It’s an historic milestone in the country’s emergence from years of chaos and civil war. We feel the process, though flawed in some respects by allegations of corruption and manipulation of some of the parliamentary voting, overall, produced some very positive results,” he said, noting that the new Federal Parliament that was elected is the most representative and legitimate national legislature in the history of the country.The new president, known as ‘Farmajo,’ was declared the winner after two rounds of voting by the Somali Parliament in the capital, Mogadishu. The runner-up, the incumbent, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, chose to withdraw from a third and final round of voting and congratulated the former Prime Minister on his victory. Mr. Contreras said that the voting today, held under “very, very tight security,” was conducted in a peaceful, orderly and transparent manner according to the rules stipulated by Somalia’s provisional Federal Constitution. “Voting was held at the airport and there had been some questions raised about security, but I take it everything went smoothly,” he said, stressing that had been no attempted attacks on the venue whatsoever. He went on to say that the Mission also thanked the outgoing President and his government for the achievements they registered over the past four years “and for the very good working relationship that we enjoyed as the United Nations with President Hassan Sheikh and his team.” Looking ahead, Mr. Contreras said that what is next for Somalia first of all is for the new Federal President to name a prime minister. The prime minister then in turn will appoint a cabinet. “And then they will get down to business. The new President […] faces a daunting list of challenges in the coming months and years. There is of course the ongoing drought crisis in many parts of the country where over six million people are facing varying degrees of food insecurity,” he explained. Furthermore, Mr. Contreras continued, there is a presumption of the constitutional review process that needs to take place, and that process needs to be completed this year. “Also, the new Federal President will need to promote reconciliation among various communities across Somalia who have disputes over resources, land and other matters.” In all this, the international community, led by the UN, stands ready to work closely with the new Government and help it promote the State-building process and consolidate the peace and promote the development of the country, he stated. read more

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