World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Sri Lanka: CHOGM no-show if human rights a no-go

December 5, 2013

An article from Australian National University forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Sri Lanka: CHOGM no-show if human rights a no-go

(This article was first published by the Australian National University's College of Asia and the Pacific on November 7, 2013)

There is little point in delegates gathering at the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka unless rule of law issues in the South Asian nation are raised, a Sri Lankan human rights lawyer says.

The meeting, which will be opened by Prince Charles on 15 November, has already been boycotted by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has criticised the host country for failing to investigate human-rights violations during its 29-year civil war.

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, who is delivering two public lectures at ANU next week, says countries including Australia are obliged to discuss the unravelling of the rule of law in Sri Lanka while attending the CHOGM meeting in Colombo.

Rule of law refers to a legal system in which the law is able to impose meaningful restraints on a country's government.

"If a country were to take the position that it observed the rule of law in its own country, but is not concerned about that not being observed in other countries...I do not think that attitude is a reasonable one," she said.

"And I do not think that that attitude is appropriate."

For 'ordinary' Sri Lankans, Pinto-Jayawardena maintained CHOGM was of little relevance.

"Because the rule of law is not being enforced by the host country," she said.

Pinto-Jayawardena attributes the 'complete and utter breakdown' of the country's legal system following the end of the civil war in 2009, to the centralisation of power in one person – namely Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse.

In recent months, Rajapakse removed Sri Lanka's chief justice from office – a move that was strongly criticised by religious leaders, pro-democracy activists and lawyers.

In Sri-Lanka's north-east, where the Tamil population is highly concentrated, physical security and land ownership has been negatively affected.

"Civil administration has still not replaced military administration," says Pinto-Jayawardena.

"Within the last three or four years, we have seen instances of places of worship being demolished, sometimes by government troops and sometimes by unknown groups, whose actions are not then investigated."

When the war ended in 2009, many family members were missing.

"The welfare of these people has not yet been accounted for," says Pinto-Jayawardena.

A 2010 government inquiry into Sri Lanka's civil war was flawed, she added, because the government wasn't interested in implementing most of its recommendations.

Pinto-Jayawardena is delivering two lectures at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific as part of its distinguished visitors series.

The first lecture, Braving the seas: Sri Lanka's post-war troubles, will take place from 5-6.30pm on Monday 11 November.

She will deliver Women, politics and the law in Sri Lanka at Seminar Room 3, Hedley Bull Centre (Building 130) from 11.30am to 12.30pm on Wednesday 13 November.

Pinto-Jayawardena's visit is supported by the Research School of Asia and the Pacific at ANU.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Whaling: Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research In Defiance Of World Court Ruling

The ICR Today Filed Court Briefs Stating They Intend to Return to Antarctica to Hunt Whales in 2015-2016; Will Seek to Enjoin Other Sea Shepherd Entities from Obstructing Their Operations More>>

Ukraine: UN Urges 'Maximum Restraint' Amid Situation In East Ukraine

Deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in eastern Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for maximum restraint and appealed to all sides to work towards calming the situation, which has the 'growing potential' to ... More>>

United Nations: Children Can Now Lodge Complaints With The UN

GENEVA (14 April 2014) – United Nations child rights experts have hailed a new treaty that allows children to complain directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about alleged violations of their rights. More>>

India: Election But A Ritual In Nation Lacking Rule Of Law

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) congratulates the people of India for their participation to elect the 16th Lok Sabha. The process has attracted, as usual, considerable media attention across the world. Media claims the process to be 'the largest democratic ... More>>

Solomon Islands: Thousands Remain Affected After Flash Floods

An estimated 52,000 people remain affected in the worst-hit areas of Honiara and greater Guadalcanal following last week’s devastating floods which killed at least 23 people. More>>


World: Some 437,000 People Murdered Worldwide In 2012 - UN

Almost half a million people across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, with the highest murder rates logged in the Americas and Africa, and the lowest in Europe, Asia and Oceania, the United Nations Office on ... More>>

Central African Republic:: Security Council Establishes UN Peacekeeping Mission

Deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation and ongoing human rights abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Security Council today approved the establishment of a nearly 12,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping operation ... More>>


Parliament: NZ Sending Aid Flight To Solomons

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has announced further support for the response to severe flooding in Solomon Islands. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news