SL Human Rights Commission slams Army for violating agreement on peacekeeping

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has complained that troops were deployed to Lebanon without their clearance, in violation of an agreement reached in 2016 that would see the Commission vet all Sri Lankan peacekeepers for their human rights record.

In a letter to the President as commander in chief, HRCSL chair says it’s shocking that soldiers were sent for UN peacekeeping before the conclusion of the vetting process.

“Deploying troops without the vetting process is a complete violation of the agreement with the Human Rights Commission,” says HRCSL Chairperson Deepika Udagama.

The letter to President Maithripala Sirisena details information of non-cooperation by the military in helping with the clearance.

The commission had been sent forms with regard to 204 troops on 21 December 2017, but then asked for supportive documents which were due on 19 March 2018.

It had only received part of it late on 4 April 2018.

Lt. Colonel Hewage

In its letter the Commission says it was shocked to discover of 49 soldiers being sent to Lebanon through news sources on 19 February – this without vetting it says was a violation of the agreement.

However, the Ministry of Defence had announced online its intention to send the contingent ten days earlier on 8 February 2018.  It is not known that the Commission had raised an objection before the announced deployment. 

When human rights organisations and Tamil diaspora groups objected to deploying Lieutenant Colonel Wasantha Hewage to head the contingent the UN stepped in to stop him.

In a letter to the media dated 29 February 2018 Sri Lanka military spokesperson Brigadier Sumith Atapattu had confirmed that the government is in agreement with the UN to vet all soldiers before deploying for peacekeeping.

Dr Deepika Udagama has also criticised the military for not coming forward to correct several press reports that wrongly accused the Commission of delaying the deployment of Sri Lankan troops for peacekeeping in Lebanon.




Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.