Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reiterated the importance of dealing with accountability issues as Sri Lanka continues to work towards national reconciliation following its long-running civil war. Mr. Ban stressed the point during a meeting at United Nations Headquarters with Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Special Envoy of the President of Sri Lanka on Human Rights.
The meeting was part of the UN’s ongoing dialogue with the Sri Lankan Government as a follow-up to the Joint Statement made by the Secretary-General and President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2009, when Mr. Ban visited the South Asian nation shortly after the end of the conflict.
Government forces declared victory over the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 after a conflict that had raged on and off for nearly three decades and killed thousands of people. The conflict ended with large numbers of Sri Lankans living as internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially in the north of the island country.
Today’s discussion, according to information provided by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson, also touched on the importance of an inclusive national dialogue aimed at achieving genuine political reconciliation, as well as ongoing progress with regard to recovery and resettlement efforts in the north.
Last month, Mr. Ban forwarded a report by a three-member UN panel of experts on accountability issues during the civil war to the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The panel found there were credible reports that both Government forces and the LTTE committed war crimes during the war’s final months. It recommended that the Government respond to the allegations by initiating an effective accountability process beginning with genuine investigations.
The panel also recommended a review of the UN’s actions regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates during the war and its immediate aftermath, which Mr. Ban has asked Thoraya Obaid, the former head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), to conduct.