June 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka parliament will debate the comprehensive international investigation mandated by the United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC) to probe alleged war crimes on June 17 and 18, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody announced today.
Chief government whip Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said the decision to assign the dates to debate a motion submitted by nine parliamentarians against the investigation was taken this morning at the party leaders' meeting which was chaired by the Deputy Speaker.
The Sri Lankan parliament will debate whether to allow a team appointed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) into the country to conduct a comprehensive investigation on the alleged war crimes committed by both the security forces and the Tamil terrorists during the last seven years of the three-decade long war.
The debate will commence at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday (17th) and will conclude at 6:30 p.m. for the day. It will resume on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. A vote will be taken at the end of the debate at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday. Parliament will convene at 1:00 p.m. on both days.
Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena, Basil Rajapakse, DEW Gunasekera, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Susil Premajayantha participated in the party leaders meeting representing the ruling party. Chief opposition whip John Amaratunga represented the main opposition United National Party (UNP) while parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake represented the Democratic National Alliance. MPs R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran represented the major Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in the party leaders meeting.
A motion signed by nine parliamentarians against the international investigation on Sri Lanka had been submitted to the Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake on Tuesday (June 10).
The motion submitted by MPs Achala Jagodage, Malini Fonseka, Janaka Bandara, Uditha Lokubandara, A.H.M. Azwer, Shantha Bandara, J.R.P Suriyapperuma, Nimal Wijesinghe and Duminda Silva says that the Investigation against Sri Lanka by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should not be held.
"This Parliament resolves that the investigation to be conducted against Sri Lanka by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should not be carried out on the ground that such a course of action is detrimental to the process of reconciliation and peace and that it erodes the sovereignty, dignity and stature of Sri Lanka," the motion reads.
Opposition party leaders said that they needed to add amendments to the motion. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake handed over a set of amendments and Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga said that his party's proposed amendments would be handed over prior to debate.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday announced that her office has appointed a team to conduct the investigation. The OHCHR confirmed yesterday that senior UN official Ms. Sandra Beidas, who was expelled from South Sudan as a persona non grata, has been appointed to coordinate the team.
Sri Lanka flatly rejected the investigation mandated to the OHCHR by the adoption of the UNHRC resolution 25/1 in March this year and refused to cooperate with the "OHCHR-driven so called comprehensive investigation emanating from it (resolution)."
Sri Lanka opposition parties, UNP and TNA as well as the United States and UK have urged the government to cooperate with the UN team.