Crimes Against Humanity in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province

A Legal Analysis of Post-War Human Rights Violations

by Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace & Justice, London, March 4, 2014


This Report is the first of its kind to map the facts of well-documented, post-war human rights
violations in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province to the legal elements of crimes against humanity. Amidst
growing calls that the UNHRC mandate an international investigation at its March 2014 Session, the Sri
Lankan government has resisted external pressure for accountability for crimes committed during the
last stages of the civil war. Citing transitional justice as an obstacle to post-war stability, Sri Lanka has
tried to redirect attention to post-war infrastructural development and purported progress on human
security for Tamils in the Northern Province. However, Sri Lanka’s claims to post-war progress are
undermined by allegations reported and analyzed in this Report.
This Report fundamentally challenges the government’s narrative on accountability. Its findings
demonstrate that, contrary to government assertions, human rights violations credibly amounting to
international crimes continue to be committed nearly five years after the end of a decades-long civil war
in May 2009. For many Tamils in the North, the end of the internal armed conflict has not put an end to
grave and recurring human rights violations, including rape, sexual violence, torture, enforced
disappearance, imprisonment, murder, and deprivation of land rights.
This report analyses these violations, using the framework set forth by the Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court. Under the Rome Statute, a charge of crimes against humanity involves the
multiple commission of certain inhumane underlying acts within a particular context: a widespread or
systematic attack directed against the civilian population, pursuant to a State or organizational policy.
For purposes of this Report, the research team focused solely on allegations of post-war violations in

the Northern Province reported by public sources, and that satisfied a three-part credibility test, as well
as information gathered through interviews. Analyzing these credible allegations of recurring post-war
crimes, this Report makes a conservative case that such violations, if proven, point to the commission of
crimes against humanity against the Tamil civilian population in the Northern Province long after the
war’s end in May 2009.
Findings: Credible Allegations pointing to the Commission of Crimes Against Humanity Against Tamils
in the Northern Province from May 2009-December 2013
 This Report finds credible allegations that, since May 2009, agents and individuals acting on
behalf of the government of Sri Lanka committed multiple underlying acts of rape and
sexual violence, torture, other inhuman acts, imprisonment, murder, enforced disappearance
and persecution against Tamils from the Northern Province of Sri Lanka (See Part III).
 If proven, the multiple underlying acts identified in Part III would cumulatively constitute an
attack directed against the Tamil civilian population of the Northern Province that was
widespread and systematic.

 The credible allegations set forth in this Report point to an attack perpetrated pursuant to a
coordinated policy to centralize control over aspects of Tamil civil and political life in the
Northern Province and repress the pursuit of Tamil political aspirations, including through
resort to violence and deprivation of fundamental rights (See Part II). The allegations herein
suggest that this policy is being pursued through at least four discrete but interlinked
strategies pursued by the government of Sri Lanka, all involving a resort to violence or the
deprivation of fundamental rights:

 Targeting members of the population having had connections with, or perceived as
having had connections with, the LTTE; and those espousing or perceived as
espousing Tamil nationalist claims;
 Targeting members of the population involved in or perceived as being involved in
mobilizing international opinion on accountability issues and human rights issues
concerning Tamils in Sri Lanka;
 Targeting members of the population defiant of, or perceived as being defiant of, the
government and military, and those involved in protests against the government and
military; and
 Establishing a heavy and permanent military presence in the Northern Province,
including through the mass appropriation of private lands.
 As a result, each of the credible allegations of underlying acts documented in the Report
point to the commission of discrete crimes against humanity, each potentially giving rise to
individual criminal liability.

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