THERE is little doubt that in 2009 the government of Sri Lanka pulled off one of the nastiest episodes of mass killing since the Rwandan genocide – and got away with it…
[T]hese efforts morphed into the International Crimes Evidence Project, which is now led by the Sydney-based Public Interest Advocacy Centre. ICEP is probably now the single largest repository of evidence related to war crimes in Sri Lanka in the world. ICEP’s personnel includes veterans from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Next month, ICEP will hand a brief of evidence to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with evidence gathered and attested using the highest standards of international criminal law. While Sri Lanka is certain to argue next March that it has given a true account of the end of the war, ICEP’s brief will demonstrate otherwise.
The only way for the UN to set the record straight on Sri Lanka now is for Ban ki Moon to set up an international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. It was the recommendation of a panel of experts he commissioned to write a report last year but the Secretary General hesitated to take such a step without strong international backing. We now know from this internal review that his own legal department advised him he had the power to do it, but backed off. After the revelations of this inquiry it’s an essential step to restore the UN’s tattered credibility on Sri Lanka.
Note that as the years go by, individuals are no longer identified as ‘Tamil,’ although all cases refered to the Working Group are indisputably of one ethnic group, part of the wider effort to forget that Sri Lanka’s is a language, religion & geography-based conflict. — Ed/
Nearly 2 and a half years later, and despite Sri Lanka’s commitment to a credible investigation into war-time abuses, the U.N. has yet to issue a firm public call for an independent inquiry into the war.
But it is his response to the final, bloody months of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war — a human rights calamity that has largely fallen below the radar of most global policymakers — that may ultimately do more to shape his legacy, and that of the United Nations, as a defender of human rights…
“Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN,” the report concluded…
The U.N. chief has never authorized an independent investigation, arguing that only an intergovernmental organization like the U.N. Security Council or the Human Rights Council has the power to do it. (That hasn’t happened)…
“You had a crisis that unfolded before the eyes of the United Nations and the major powers and no action was taken,” [Steven Ratner] said. “Everything was done in a very quiet way. I think it’s a terrible defeat and setback for the whole commitment to R2P.”
“The U.N. struggled to exert influence on the Government which, with the effective acquiescence of a post-9/11 world order, was determined to defeat militarily an organization designated as terrorist. Some have argued that many deaths could have been averted had the Security Council and the Secretariat, backed by the U.N. country team, spoken out loudly early on, notably by publicizing the casualty numbers. Others say that the question is less whether the U.N. should assume responsibility for the tragedy, but more whether it did everything it could to assist the victims.”
Failure to respond to this crisis happened in Washington, DC, too. Anti-genocide groups that formed in the wake of the Darfur genocide did not rouse their constituencies around the mass atrocity in Sri Lanka. You barely heard from these groups, let alone see the kind of public awareness raising campaign that has made organizations like the Enough Project so effective in moving public opinion and shaping policy…The institutional standard bearers of the anti-genocide movement failed to respond to the singly worst atrocity since Darfur.
“Events in Sri Lanka mark a grave failure of the UN to adequately respond… during the final stages of the conflict and its aftermath, to the detriment of hundreds of thousands of civilians.”
According to what the former Attorney-General Mohan Peiris told Xinhua newsagency on the same day (5 November), the Army Court of Inquiry has had only 50 sittings for the whole of last ten months. That is little more than one sitting per week. It has only recorded statements from only 20 witnesses. These statistics speak very poorly of the so-called investigations now going on or claimed to be going on. It is not clear how many cases or incidents that they have been investigating. All these are kept as guarded secrets. That is why these investigations are considered like ‘asking evidence from robber’s mother’ (horage ammagen sakki aheema). It should be kept in mind that these are only preliminary inquiries. For any military prosecution, the cases have to be filed before the General Court Martial.
Of 26 voluntary commitments maden i 2008, Sri Lanka has fulfilled just two. Similarly,
out of 45 accepted recommendations, only 5 have been implemented. Continuing its
deteriorating human rights record, as of May 2009 Sri Lanka stands accused of war
crimes, crimes against humanity, and gross violations of human rights.
AI Enforced Disappearances Oct 30 2012 AI index: ASA 37/011/2012 30 October 2012 Sri Lanka: Continuing impunity, arbitrary detentions, torture and enforced disappearances On Thursday 1 November, the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka will take place – the first such review since May 2008, when the government… Read more »
An internal review panel studying what went wrong in the UN system’s response to Sri Lanka, commissioned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and headed by the distinguished diplomat Charles Petrie, is due to report to Ban next month. All indications are that it will not be a pretty story. It is crucial that its findings be made public and acted upon.
The intimidating poster campaign is linked to Dr Saravanamuttu’s legal challenge of the Divineguma Bill in the Supreme Court. The proposed law intends to create a new Divineguma Department that will consume the Samurdhi poverty alleviation programme and the Southern and Hill Country Development authorities. The Bill encroaches into the functions of the Provincial Councils.
The Colombo government has issued a new map of Mullaiththeevu district on September 25, when SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa attended a ‘special’ District Development Council (DDC) meeting of Ki’linochchi and Mullaiththeevu districts in Ki’linochchi…
Almost all of the 11,789 people belonging to 3,536 families in the ‘Weli Oya’ division are Sinhala settlers.
Hattrem summarized the Norwegian view of the challenges to finding out about war crimes: that in all likelihood only 2-3 army officers knew about any given illegal action, that orders were given verbally, that government officials will not give evidence, and that the Tamils are afraid to give evidence. Strommen suggested that although Williamson cannot use information given by the ICRC directly, that information may be used as a cross-check against information gathered from other sources. Stangeland said that the Norwegian government was shocked by the extent to which, in the last stages of the conflict, the Sri Lankan army and government (a) said that its actions were proportionate, which turned out to be false, and (b) violated every guaranteed civilian “safe zone” that was supposedly put into place.
The war against the LTTE, waged by the Mahinda Rajapakse government, may have restored peace in Sri Lanka. But thousands of Tamils paid the price for the so-called victory with their lives, journalist Frances Harrison tells Vicky Nanjappa.
Former BBC Correspondent to Sri Lanka, and the author of ‘Still Counting The Dead’, Frances Harrison, interviewed by Palaka’ni, TamilNet.
Julian Vigo: I got involved because I was working on child trafficking projects in Haiti and was approached by two different members of the UN who asked me to make a report about what they witnessed in Sri Lanka that resembled much of what they were seeing in Haiti.
In the six months since the Human Rights Council’s March 2012 resolution on “Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka”, the government of Sri Lanka has taken no meaningful steps to implement the resolution’s core requirements or otherwise address the country’s culture of impunity and deepening crisis of the rule of law. The publication of a “national action plan” to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) does nothing the change this…
“We respectfully urge you and your colleagues to purposefully and dynamically engage with the government of Sri Lanka in advancing reconciliation and accountability and a return to peaceful stability.”