Sri Lanka Brief
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Sri Lanka Report FallsShort

The final report of Sri Lanka’s Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC), released publicly today, acknowledges serious human rights problemsin Sri Lanka but falls short of fully addressing the war crimes and crimesagainst humanity committed during the final phases of the conflict betweenthe government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Amnesty Internationalsaid today.

“A preliminary review of the report suggests that it acknowledges thevery serious human rights problems in Sri Lanka.  But where it appearsto really falter is in ignoring the serious evidence of war crimes, crimesagainst humanity and other violations of the laws of war by governmentforces, even though the report highlights the serious and systematic violationscommitted by the LTTE,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacificdirector.

“There is a clear sign of the bias we had feared and already detectedin the LLRC’s composition and conduct. It does however offer some interestingrecommendations about how to improve the overall human rights situationin Sri Lanka that the government needs to take seriously,” said Sam Zarifi,

“The Sri Lankan government must now address the findings included in thisreport. It should report to the UN Human Rights Council at its next sessionin March 2012 on its measures to implement the report’s recommendations,including the need for further investigation of alleged violations of thelaws of war, taking account of the findings and recommendations of thereport of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountabilityin Sri Lanka.”

The LLRC received numerous testimonies about enforced disappearances, illegalor abusive detention and extrajudicial executions. It has called on theSri Lankan government to investigate these reports and prosecute violators. 

Importantly the report notes that many people stressed that “definitiveaction against alleged cases of disappearances as well as preventive measurewould have a significant impact on the reconciliation process.”

Amnesty International has long held that accountability is essential toreconciliation in Sri Lanka. Although the Sri Lankan authorities shouldtake seriously the LLRC’s recommendations, Amnesty International believesthat given Sri Lanka’s long history of impunity, lack of apparent politicalwill to address ongoing violations and enormous backlog of unresolved casesof violations, effective investigation and prosecution of all wrongdoers(including commanding officers) is very unlikely without the active supportof the international community.

The report’s major shortcoming is in addressing alleged violations ofthe laws of war, where the LLRC appears to have taken the government’sresponses uncritically. The LLRC admits what the Government of Sri Lankahas assiduously denied – that civilians, including those in hospitals,suffered directly as a result of LTTE and government shelling, but theLLRC’s blanket rejection of government targeting of civilians and its deliberatedownplaying of the numbers of civilians caught in the final phase of theconflict is not warranted by the evidence, including that presented tothe LLRC.  

“The LLRC has admitted its own inability to establish the facts aboutthe conduct of the fighting, and points out legal complexities beyond itsabilities. This is why the international community must now follow up withan investigation, bringing to bear the full resources and assistance ofthe UN and the international community,” Sam Zarifi said.

For more information orcomment please contact Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Press OfficerKatya Nasim at +44 2074135871 / +44 7904 398 103

Public Document
For more information pleasecall Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 74135566 or email:
International Secretariat,Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

Katya Nasim
Asia-Pacific Press Officer
International Secretariat, Amnesty International
T: + 44 (0) 207 413 5871
M: + 44 (0) 7904 398 103
Skype: katya.nasim1

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