WAY FORWARD IS TO SHIFT FOCUS FROM ACCOUNTABILITY TO RECONCILIATION
A resolution titled “Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka” was passed at the conclusion of the 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 21, 2013. This US-sponsored resolution was opposed by Sri Lanka which lost the vote by 25 to 13 with 8 abstentions. This is the second such resolution to be passed in the UNHRC calling on Sri Lanka to improve its performance with regard to post-war accountability and reconciliation.
The international community presently seems more concerned with accountability than reconciliation nearly four years after the end of conflict. The resolution signifies a hardening of the international community’s stance on human rights issues in Sri Lanka. In comparison to last year’s resolution there is a shift in the present resolution away from a primary focus on reconciliation to a focus on accountability for past human rights violations and war crimes. The resolution specifically calls upon the Government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable.
The resolution in Geneva noted the call made by the High Commissioner for an independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. The resolution also stated that it “Encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations made in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner, and also calls upon the Government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable.”
The National Peace Council requests the Sri Lankan government to consider an acknowledgement of events that are at the heart of the UN resolution for which the LTTE also need to take their share of their responsibility. What is more important is restorative justice for those who have undergone immense suffering which needs to be brought to a closure. This could be accompanied by erecting memorials and generous schemes of reparations that permit the rebuilding of lives, homes and communities. These have been some of the successful and abiding outcomes of LLRC-type commissions in several other countries.
The government needs to revise and improve its action plan with regard to the implementation of the LLRC recommendations. This action plan is currently deficient in many areas, not least in providing civil society with only a minimal role in its implementation. In addition, the general public need to know the contents of the LLRC report, which has yet to be disseminated by the government in the two official languages, Sinhala and Tamil, even though an official translation is reported to have been prepared. The National Peace Council is currently conducting a programme of seminars and workshops to create greater awareness of the LLRC recommendations and the underlying vision of the LLRC report.
NPC believe that if these measures are undertaken by all stake holders with goodwill, mutual trust and confidence, the process itself would be transformed into a national process of reconciliation, in which all can turn back on the traumatic events of the past and look forward to a new era of justice and equity for all. Towards this end the government, and public and private sectors have laid the basic infrastructure for a modern nation on an impressive scale, within a short space of time benefiting all, especially the war ravaged areas and communities who have unnecessarily suffered.
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.
Source: National Peace Council – 23/03/2013