MRG calls for independent international mechanism to deal with issue of accountability in Sri Lanka
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) welcomes some recommendations made by the Sri Lankan government’s ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ (LLRC), but condemns its failure to deal with the crucial issue of accountability regarding events during the latter stages of the war in 2009.
MRG welcomed the government’s decision to table the LLRC report in parliament and make it publicly available.
The international human rights organisation says that the LLRC report has dealt with some key minority rights concerns. The report has important and useful recommendations on issues of language and land rights, resettlement, enforced disappearances and the security of women, all of which affect minority Muslims and Tamils.
MRG particularly welcomes the recommendations made on Muslim displacement –an issue that has been ignored by Sri Lankan governments for more than two decades.
MRG calls on the Sri Lankan government to ensure redress for the major human rights violations raised in the LLRC report and implement recommendations made on the above issues.
The LLRC report, however, does not sufficiently investigate the allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law in the last stages of the war. The report displays bias by basing its arguments mainly on statements made by military and government leaders, and while acknowledging large numbers of civilian deaths, exonerates the government for the manner in which the military campaign was conducted during this period.
The report contradicts the findings made by the panel of experts appointed to look into this issue by the UN Secretary General, and by other national and international human rights organisations, including MRG. The report also does not discuss further serious human rights violations, including torture and sexual violence, perpetrated by government forces.
In the past year the Sri Lankan government has brushed away calls for an international investigation into war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by insisting that the LLRC – its domestic mechanism – is capable of fulfilling this task. The credibility of the LLRC has been repeatedly questioned because of its wide mandate and because some of its members were key government defenders of the war.
Serious human rights violations including enforced disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings are continuing in Sri Lanka two and a half years after the end of the armed conflict. MRG says the current climate of impunity and the government’s failure to fully deal with the issue of justice and accountability are thwarting the much needed reconciliation process in the country.
In this context, MRG says, international action is now crucial. It calls on the UN Human Rights Council to start a formal discussion on both the LLRC report and the UN Panel report with the aim of establishing an independent international mechanism to investigate fully the credible allegations of violations of international humanitarian committed by all parties involved in the armed conflict and to monitor progress towards the implementation of an effective transitional justice process by the Government of Sri Lanka.