“Rajapaksa has made it clear in public rhetoric and propaganda that China is our best friend,” said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives. “There’s a perception that the Chinese are underpinning misgovernance and corruption in the regime.”
“It is important to understand that this investigation was set up for the benefit of all Sri Lankans, as an avenue to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation,” she said.
“It is in this context that the Human Rights Council-mandated investigation should be viewed, rather than being seen as a confrontation.”
No matter what happens in Geneva this month, the way forward for Sri Lanka will be difficult. The situation on the island is clearly worsening and, up to now, international efforts to exert pressure on the regime have been largely ineffectual. Since the ability of international actors to shape events in Sri Lanka is limited, the passage of a strong resolution at the HRC – one that emphasizes an independent international mechanism to monitor ongoing human rights trends and also to conduct an examination into the war’s final phase – would not guarantee a decline in authoritarianism. On the other hand, the passage of a weak resolution or – less likely – the failure to pass any resolution on Sri Lanka this time around would probably encourage heightened repression, the continued rejection of Tamil and Muslim rights and an even more evident period of ethnic discord.
“We recognize the framework agreed upon in resolutions 21/1 HRC (2012) and 22/1 HRC 2013 supporting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka and efforts made by member states calling on the Sri Lankan government to address grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed before, during and after the war which ended in May 2009. We recognize too the efforts of member states calling on the Sri Lankan government to address continuing violation of human rights and democratic norms in Sri Lanka.
Despite the failure of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to deal adequately with issues of accountability, civil society broadly agreed to cooperate with the Sri Lankan government in the implementation of the main LLRC recommendations. However, the government has not engaged in meaningful dialogue with civil society, opposition political parties and the international community in the implementation of LLRC recommendations. Moreover, the National Action Plan (NAP) conceived by the Sri Lankan government in July 2012 for this purpose, glosses over the most important issues of the LLRC, diluting its recommendations, considerably.
In our opinion, the Sri Lankan government continues to procrastinate over the implementation of key LLRC recommendations and instead, showcases ostensible progress on the NAP. The latter totally ignores the call for the setting up of an effective national mechanism to address accountability issues. Accordingly, we affirm the reports released by prominent Sri Lankan think tanks and civil society organisations such as the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which highlight the failure and shortcoming of the Sri Lankan government in the implementation of the LLRC recommendations.”
Read & download the full statement here –http://www.cpalanka.org/joint-civil-society-memorandum-to-the-human-rights-council-and-the-international-community/
The Human Rights Council has an opportunity, and should seize it. A number of the council’s current member states — for instance Chile, Costa Rica, Botswana, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Morocco and Macedonia — have led on other human rights issues and should press the council on this one. Sri Lanka’s government is playing a waiting game, hoping the international community will lose interest, while also proffering the crude argument that reconciliation is attainable without justice.
But the costs of doing something now would be very small compared with the years of strife that would be the likely result of letting impunity win in Sri Lanka.