Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Referral of Panel of Experts Report on Sri Lanka to Human Rights Council is a Positive Step Toward Reconciliation

by Tamil American Peace Initiative, Washington, September 15, 2011

“This is a long-awaited and significant step towards justice and lasting peace in Sri Lanka,” said Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham, Executive Director of TAPI. “We hope the Human Rights Council will give due prominence to the UN panel’s report and initiate the appropriate steps to ensure that allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity are investigated by a credible, international body. Without an objective and earnest investigation into the deaths of tens of thousands of unarmed Tamil civilians during the final months of the war, Sri Lanka will not be able to heal and achieve reconciliation.”

The Tamil American Peace Initiative (TAPI) is encouraged by United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s recent referral of the UN Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The UNHRC is meeting from September 12-30 and discussions on accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka are expected to be on the agenda.

“This is a long-awaited and significant step towards justice and lasting peace in Sri Lanka,” said Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham, Executive Director of TAPI. “We hope the Human Rights Council will give due prominence to the UN panel’s report and initiate the appropriate steps to ensure that allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity are investigated by a credible, international body. Without an objective and earnest investigation into the deaths of tens of thousands of unarmed Tamil civilians during the final months of the war, Sri Lanka will not be able to heal and achieve reconciliation.”

Mr. Ban’s spokesman noted that “the Secretary General had given time to the Government of Sri Lanka to respond to the report, [but] the Government has declined to do so, and instead has produced its own reports on the situation in the north of Sri Lanka.” These government-issued reports are being sent along with the UN panel’s report to the UNHRC and OHCHR.

Although the Sri Lankan Government established its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the UN Panel of Experts report, the United States and Europe, and leading human rights groups have expressed strong concern over the LLRC’s objectivity and credibility. A recently released report by Amnesty International entitled When Will They Get Justice? Failures of Sri Lanka’s LLRC, said the LLRC’s proceedings are a “frustrating record of missed opportunities to establish evidence, or more broadly seek justice and accountability.” Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director, Sam Zarifi, said, "The Sri Lankan government has, for almost two years, used the LLRC as its trump card in lobbying against an independent international investigation. Officials described it as a credible accountability mechanism, able to deliver justice and promote reconciliation. In reality it's flawed at every level: in mandate, composition and practice.”

About TAPI
The Tamil American Peace Initiative was formed by a group of Tamil Americans to help bring lasting peace, justice, democracy, good governance and economic development to Sri Lanka; to focus attention on the destruction of Tamil communities and culture caused by almost three decades of war; and to demand an end to the continuing oppression of Tamils on the island.

Contact T. Kopper at info@tamilamerican.org or +1.202.879.9384 for additional information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham.