Sri Lanka’s Attorney-General Mohan Peiris is due in U.K. on Thursday to “explore the possibilities of taking legal action” against British broadcaster Channel 4 for airing a controversial video footage of alleged military killings of unarmed LTTE cadres, Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told the Daily Mirror from Geneva.
The Minister, who is in Geneva for the 12th U.N. Human Rights Council session, told the newspaper that the Attorney-General would meet lawyers representing Sri Lanka and discuss the best way to proceed against the broadcaster.
He said Mr. Peiris would also meet the Press Complaints Commission in the U.K. on this issue and seek redress.
Mr. Samarasinghe met U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Phillip Alston’s team in Geneva - the Special Rapporteur himself was not present - and conveyed a message to Mr. Alston saying he should issue a statement welcoming the investigation opened by the government of Sri Lanka into the incident as quickly as he issued a statement asking Sri Lanka to investigate the allegations made by Channel 4.
Speaking at the general debate of the 12th session of the UNHRC on Tuesday, Mr. Peiris urged the international community for cooperation in a partnership of true sense, in which all Sri Lankans could enjoy the full dividends of peace.
“With the military defeat of LTTE in May 2009, there is not even a semblance of a conflict in Sri Lanka. Normalcy has been resorted in all parts of the country and our people are looking forward with renewed hope and optimism for a brighter future,” he said.
“The government has resettled approximately 40,000 IDPs as on 10th September 2009, while the remaining civilians are expected to be resettled by end of January 2010,” he told the council.
A statement on the Defence Ministry website said the Attorney-General referred to “misinterpretations and prejudicial statements” on the sentencing of journalist J.S. Tissanayagam to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment.
“Mr. Peiris said that at the end of the trial, the court found him guilty and the minimum punishment that could have been imposed under the provision of law for such crimes had been imposed on him,” the website reported.
On Monday, speaking at the UNHRC meet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay cited the prison sentence imposed on Mr. Tissainayagam, who had criticised the army’s treatment of Tamil civilians.
“Combating impunity and strengthening accountability both in situations of peace and conflict will remain an important priority for OHCHR,” she said.
Another report on the Sri Lanka Defence Ministry website quoted Ms. Pillai as telling Mr. Samarasinghe that she welcomed the investigation into Channel 4’s video alleging human rights violations against the country.
Mr. Samarasinghe told the U.N. official that two investigations, one in Australia, and another at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka, concluded the video clips were fakes.
Meanwhile, at the request of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe arrived in Sri Lanka on Wednesday for discussions on a number of critical issues related to the aftermath of the armed conflict.
These include resettlement of internally displaced persons, political reconciliation and the establishment of a mechanism of accountability for alleged human rights violations in the context of the conflict.