Powerful western countries, India and international human rights groups have waited or were told to wait for the report of the Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) which among other issues looked into allegations of human rights violations and war crimes both by the LTTE and government forces. While extremists Sinhala-buddhist parties are accusing the LLRC of going beyond its mandate, world reaction to the LLRC report on accountability issues appears to have put the Government on a collision course with powerful western countries and international human rights groups. Amnesty International and the New York-based Human Rights Watch reacted immediately and strongly.
They claimed the LLRC had not property addressed this issue and therefore an independent international commission must be appointed to probe alleged war crimes or crimes against humanity during the final months of the conflict against the LTTE in 2007.
The United States and other Western countries are also reported to be dissatisfied with the LLRC report on accountability issues. Reports say the western countries are likely to move a strong resolution against Sri Lanka when the United Nations Human Rights Council holds its next sessions in March next year.
At the UN itself, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is reported to be still closely studying the LLRC report. Earlier this year Mr. Ban, appointed a three-member panel of experts to probe allegations of war crimes in the aftermath of a British Channel-4 TV documentary film, which showed some shocking scenes of what it described as crimes against humanity. Mr. Ban’s panel after several months of investigations issued a shocking report saying there was substantial evidence of war crimes and these needed to be probed by an independent commission. The expert said those found guilty of these crimes, whatever high positions they held must be hauled before and international criminal court on war crimes charges.
Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has also expressed disappointment that the LLRC report has failed to adequately address the issue of alleged war crimes and accountability. In a tough statement last week, the TNA called on the international community to exercise the Right to Protect (R2P) Convention and take effective action on the alleged war crimes issue if the Sri Lankan Government failed to do so. Meanwhile President Mahinda Rajapaksa accused TNA leaders of taking orders or advice from abroad. He was probably referring to the regular talks that TNA leaders hold with top Indian officials in New Delhi and the recent talks they held with US state department officials.
Whatever the situation, whoever is bluffing whom and whoever is betraying whom, the bitter truth is that in a globalised world the issues of accountability and good governance have to be faced whatever the consequences. We need to respect the widely accepted convention that sovereignty is not so much a privilege but a responsibility.