Rajapaksa for review of intl humanitarian laws

Sri Lanka Prez Mahinda Rajapaksa has suggested a review of international legislations on the issue, claiming they do not address challenges of terrorism wrought by non-state actors.

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2010, 22:03 PM IST

United Nations: Facing global criticism for
alleged human rights violations during the LTTE war, Sri
Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has suggested a review of
international legislations on the issue, claiming they do not
address challenges of terrorism wrought by non-state actors.

"In this context, it is worth examining the capacity of
current international humanitarian law to meet contemporary
needs," he said, addressing the UN General Assembly last
night.

"It must be remembered that such law evolved essentially
in response to conflicts waged by the forces of legally
constituted States, and not terrorist groups."

Despite Colombo`s protests, the UN announced in June
setting up of an "advisory panel" that would "formulate
advice" on dealing with the alleged human rights violations
that occurred in the months before the Sri Lankan government
defeated the LTTE in May 2009.

The Sri Lankan leadership immediately rejected the
panel, though the UN had made it clear that the panel was not
a fact finding or investigative body and that a domestic probe
remained the first choice for an investigation.

The asymmetrical nature of conflicts initiated by non-
state actors gives rise to serious problems which need to be
considered in earnest by the international community,
Rajapaksa said.

Many of the atrocities of terrorism that the West has
come to experience in recent times, the people of Sri Lanka
were themselves the victims of, for nearly 30 years, he said
in his address.

Rajapaksa said he had established the Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation Commission giving full expression to principles
of accountability.

He said during the conflict almost 100,000 lives were
lost, among them a President of Sri Lanka (Ranasinghe
Premadasa), a visionary leader of India (Rajiv Gandhi) and
scores of intellectuals and politicians.

"Those who observing from afar (and) suggested that the
Sri Lankan government should have conceded to the demands of
the terrorists, need to be reminded that terror is terror,
whatever mask it wears and however it is packaged," Rajapaksa
said.

"To all those, I say this. My responsibility is to the
entire nation. My responsibility is to the lives of millions
of men, women and children, and those yet to be born. My
responsibility is to the peace and prosperity of the nation
and the right to a peaceful life for all who live there," he
said.

Rajapaksa said the LTTE was "an organisation so brutal,
that even those it claimed to represent, the Tamil community
of Sri Lanka, were as much victims of its terror as the rest
of the population of our country."

"We are pursuing a nationwide agenda of renewal. Sri
Lanka has already returned over 90 per cent of the internally
displaced persons to their original villages that were
previously riddled with landmines," Rajapaksa said.

The entire focus of the country is now on building
lasting peace; healing wounds, ensuring economic prosperity
and guaranteeing the rights of the whole nation to live in
harmony, he said.

PTI