International

Fonseka’s nomination draws flak from HRW

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Says "the government may protect senior military leaders suspected of widespread abuses."

The nomination by the ruling United National Party (UNP) of former Commander of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and founder of the Democratic Party Sarath Fonseka to Paliament has been criticised by the Human Rights Watch, a global human rights group based in the United States.

In a statement, “[Mr] Fonseka’s appointment signals that the government may protect senior military leaders suspected of widespread abuses,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of the group, “The [Sri Lanka] government should meaningfully demonstrate to the Sri Lankan people and the UN that it is serious about accountability and not on the road to a whitewash,” he said.

Mr. Fonseka, who headed the SLA during the final years of the civil war, filled the vacancy caused by the death of Minister M.K.A.D.S.Gunawardana. Mr Fonseka, who was conferred by the present regime with the highest military rank of Field Marshal about a year ago, lost to Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2010 presidential elections and subsequently, he was a Member of Parliament briefly before being disqualified.

Breach of trust

The HRW’s official also described Mr. Fonseka’s appointment as “a breach of trust for victims and families who believed in this government’s commitment to deliver justice for war crimes.”

Responding to the criticism by the human rights group, Gallage Punyawardena, chairperson of the Swarna Hansa Foundation, a body claiming to represent interests of nationalists in Sri Lanka, termed the decision of the UNP “appropriate” and said this was done “in recognition of services rendered by the former Commander who saved the country from terrorists.” He said international community did not want persons such as Mr Fonseka to be given prominence in public life as it was keen on “dividing Sri Lanka,” Mr Punyawardena added.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the former President Mr Rajapaksa said the government, having accepted a resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council on accountability and reconciliation, was “now adopting various strategies” to convince the public that it would not be harmful to the country.

On recent statements by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe which, Mr. Rajapaksa said, “seemed to be contradictory views” on the participation of foreign judges in the proposed war crimes mechanism, the former President described them as “just a drama for public consumption.”

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 3:05:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/fonsekas-nomination-draws-flak-from-hrw/article8224101.ece

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