The Panel of Experts’ Report provides evidence that suggest violations both of Sri Lanka’s negative obligation to refrain from committing torture and ill-treatment and its positive obligation to prevent and respond to such violations.
Implementation of these positive duties flowing in particular from articles 2, 12, 13, 14 and 16 are still outstanding, namely holding those responsible to account; providing reparation to victims; and putting in place effective guarantees of non-repetition, which requires undertaking the necessary legislative and institutional reforms.
The Panel made detailed recommendations, which are reproduced in an appendix below. It is the primary responsibility of Sri Lanka to comply with its obligations under the CAT and other international treaties. However, should Sri Lanka continue to fail to take the requisite measures despite the availability of credible evidence of torture and ill-treatment it is the responsibility of the United Nations and its organs, including its treaty bodies, to do their utmost to ensure accountability and justice for the victims of these violations. Indeed, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights already urged Sri Lanka to co-operate with the UN Panel of Experts 52 and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women urged Sri Lanka to ‘consider having an independent international accountability mechanism’53; it is now the next logical step to call for a full implementation of the Panel’s recommendations.
This could build on previous precedents where UN bodies have urged the Secretary-General to call for the establishment of an international accountability mechanism, namely the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.54 Conversely, a failure to take action would compound the climate of impunity in Sri Lanka and would constitute a betrayal of the Convention against Torture, which was adopted ‘to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment throughout the world’.
REDRESS therefore recommends that the Committee against Torture urges the Government of Sri Lanka to acknowledge that there are credible allegations of torture, ill-treatment and other violations, promptly to commence genuine investigations into these allegations in compliance with articles 12 and 13 of the Convention, and to report back to the Committee within six months on what steps it has taken in this regard.
Further, the Committee against Torture should urge the Government of Sri Lanka to consent to the establishment of an independent international mechanism having the mandate proposed by the Panel of Experts, and to report back to the Committee within six months on what steps it has taken in this regard. The Committee should also urge the UN Secretary-General to proceed without further delay with the establishment of such an independent international mechanism.
For the full reprot see here