US lawmakers' Tamil Tiger-fed hypocrisy: War crimes accountability factor
The best defense the United States House or Senate Members, officials of the US State Department and other international players have if asked as to why they are repeatedly urging a 'global scrutiny' of Sri Lanka to investigate the alleged war crimes and their insistence of putting an 'international mechanism' in place to ascertain whether Sri Lanka violated international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL), the most common and easy reply to it is that they have not spared the alleged atrocities of the Tamil Tigers, they are equally responsible for the crimes and that they call for the investigation of both parties.
The counter argument to that is not exactly that the Tamil Tiger movement is no more and no leader of that movement is left to investigate, probe or charged.
In dealing with the culpability of the Armed Non State Actors (ANSA) it is interesting to find out whether the IHL is applicable to the armed groups such as Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers (LTTE) who fought the Sri Lankan regime for twenty six years to establish a separate state in this South Asian island's north and east districts.
But before we analyze the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to ANSA we see the hypocrisy of the seven members of the US House of representatives who sponsored the resolution on Sri Lanka in highlighting the culpability of the Tamil Tigers along with the Government of Sri Lanka to bring a balance to the issue in exhibiting impartiality.
The Resolution says: The House of Representatives "Urges the Government of Sri Lanka, the international community, and the United Nations to establish an independent international accountability mechanism to look into reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations committed by both sides during and after the war in Sri Lanka and to make recommendations regarding accountability;"
To combat this hypocrisy and to convince the 'friendly' Congressmen to 'defeat' the Resolution it is vital to let the 'friendly' Congressmen know whether the IHL is applicable to the ANSA.
Here's what Asian Tribunefound:
This writer participated in Live Web seminar sponsored by the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research of the Harvard University on 5 April, 2012 on the issue 'Understanding Armed Groups and the Applicable Law'.
The following is the Asian Tribune report of the presentation made by Professor Aristotelis Constantinides, assistant professor of international law and human rights, University of Cyprus. He is also a member of the International Law Association's committee on Non-State Actors.
There is a controversy whether IHL is applicable to armed groups due to the still dominant conceptualization that human rights (HR) laws hold states responsible because they are signatories to international covenants and largely ignored the armed groups. States are obligatory to the IHR laws, and are part of the international mechanism.
So, armed groups do not fit within this scheme and they are not considered be bound by these international laws. This is still predominant and traditional to a large extent to state-centered conceptualization of IHL.
What does the state-centered conceptualization of International human rights Law means:
* HR treaties are agreements between states
* They presuppose functioning states/governments that incur a range of obligations to respect, to protect and fulfill human rights
* Obligations are monitored by expert bodies and universal or regional (judicial or political) mechanisms, NGOs, etc.
* Armed groups do not fit and have no part in this scheme
State/governments have obligations to use mechanism to effectively protect IHRL.
It should be borne in mind that international human rights treaty law does not address armed groups (with the exception of the recruitment and use of children in hostilities).
That was the professional understanding of Aristotelis Constantinides who is an authority on non-state actors and the applicability of IHL and IHRL to the activities of the ANSA.
It is this hypocrisy of some officials of the US State Department, some US Congressmen and some members of the EU needs to be exposed.
The House Resolution tabled on September 7 clearly manifests this hypocrisy. And in statements in the US House and the Senate, pronouncements by officials in the US State Department and officials of the European Union continuously highlight the importance of scrutinizing both the GSL and the LTTE, but in fact their main target is to haul Sri Lanka to an international tribunal.
Professor Constantinides' deliberations are for the 'friendly' US House Members to 'defeat' the resolution.
- Asian Tribune -