In a statement issued today, the Commission drew attention to recent media reports regarding the controversy surrounding the Press Release by the Chairman of the Commission regarding the allegation of the use of cluster bombs by the Sri Lanka Security Forces made in paragraph 33 of the Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“Questions were raised by a journalist regarding the new allegations mentioned by the High Commissioner. The Commission considered that it was its duty to answer such questions as regards the law relating to the use of cluster munitions that prevailed at the time. It should be noted that Sri Lanka had not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions of 30th May 2008 which only entered into force on 1st August 2010. Thus, the military use of such weapons were not illegal per se, prior to the entry into force of the Convention. However, the military use of such weapons have to be judged by applying the principles of distinction, military necessity and proportionality, which lie at the heart of IHL. In the Parangama Second Mandate Report we correctly identified such munitions as area weapons and thus, capable of being inherently indiscriminate,” the statement signed by the Chairman of the Commission Maxwell Parangama, said.
The Commission noted that it is right to know that there are over 70 States that are non- signatories to the Convention, apart from Sri Lanka. They include the United States, Russia and China.
In answering the question raised, the Commission said that at no time did it intend to justify the use of Cluster Munitions but only to highlight the state of the law which prevailed at the time of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
“Whilst, the Sri Lankan Army consistently denied the use of such weapons, if there is new evidence with regard to the use of Cluster Munitions during the conflict period it would fall to an investigating authority to determine by whom such use was made and whether it was consonant with the core principals of IHL in the particular circumstances,” the Commission added.
As far as the Commission is concerned it says it was only responding to the queries raised by the journalist regarding the allegation on the use of cluster bombs mentioned in the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva recently.
The Commission says its response was based on its findings and vehemently rejects criticism which have been directed at the Commission in as far as regards its press release. (Colombo Gazette)