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Sri Lanka: Plan of action proposed by the Army Board on Implementation of the Recommendations of the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission

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Highlights:
Disappearance: to appoint an Army Board of Inquiry to investigate fully the instances referred to in Chapter 4  of LLRC report
C 4 video: Board of Inquiry to investigate the matter fully in order to clear the good name of the Sri Lanka Army and also to bring any offenders ( of creating the video), to justice.
Civilians killed : The  so called civilian casualties are mainly consisted of LTTE cadres killed in combat, civilians killed by LTTE for political and other reasons and civilians killed by LTTE whilst attempting to flee LTTE held areas.
Accountability: Impose mandatory legal obligations on non-state actors to observe Rules of War, the role of International Humanitarian Agencies (ICRC, MSF etc) in Internal war situations etc.
Para Military: The Government has already disarmed/rehabilitated exmilitants groups
Human Rights:The S.L. Constitution and the existing legal framework are adequate to safeguard the HRs
Militarisation: The Military Civil Affairs Officers attached to formation headquarters should continue to function as liaison officers to assist the civil authorities to implement Nation Building Projects. The police are in total control and Armed Forces are confined to static duties at key points. 
Policing: The Police in Sri Lanka should be placed under the Ministry of Defence at all times

23. In formulating its recommendations, the Board took into account inter alia the following;
a. The obligation to educate the members of the Armed Forces in HR Law and IHL.
b. Measures to safeguard civilians and to avoid civilians casualties during Military Operations.
c. The importance of the Tamil Language not only as a medium of
communication but also as part of Counter Terrorist / Counter Insurgency Doctrine.
d. The need to produce quality soldiers in the post-war scenario.
e. Recommendations made by the LLRC to investigate the specific instances referred to at Chapter 4 of the LLRC Report.
f. Recommendations made by LLRC to establish the truth or otherwise of the allegations arising out of Channel 4 Video footage referred to at Chapter 4 of the LLRC Report.
24. The Board has restricted its recommendations to those areas which the Armed Forces alone could implement leaving the other areas to relevant state agencies concerned.
 HUMANITARIAN LAW ISSUE : ACTION PLAN PROPOSED BY THE ARMY BOARD
56. LLRC has conceded (at Paragraph 4.262) that the military strategy that was adopted by the Army to secure the LTTE held areas to be one that was carefully conceived, in which the protection of the civilian population has given the highest priority. In reaching this conclusion the LLRC has taken account of the various steps taken by the Army to identify precise targets such as deployment of Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols, procedures followed in carrying out air strikes, utilization of UAVs etc. The LLRC has also conceded that the movement of the Army was deliberately slow during the final stage of the conflict, thereby evidencing a carefully worked out strategy of avoiding civilian casualties or minimizing them. In this backdrop, the questions whether civilian casualties in fact occurred or whether such incidents were collateral or incidental damages that are inherent with the vagaries of war have not been answered affirmatively by the LLRC. Furthermore, the details given in Chapter 4 on various instances of civilian casualties are not sufficient for this Board to come to a firm conclusion with regard to the said matter. Nevertheless, this Board recommends to appoint a Board of Inquiry to investigate fully with regard the instances referred to in Chapter 4.
57. It is a common practice by LTTE to classify LTTE cadres killed in combat, civilians killed by LTTE for various reasons (such as for their anti –LTTE beliefs), civilians killed by LTTE whilst fleeing to the Government areas, civilians died during their flight to freedom for reasons such as drowning, exhaustion, land mines etc and
LTTE cadres and civilian illegally left Sri Lanka and presently domiciled abroad as Missing persons to evoke international sympathy. LLRC Report itself (at Paragraph 4.321) observes that LTTE had committed grave violations of core principles of IHL inter alia using of civilians as Human Shields, the practice of placing military equipment in NFZs, firing at civilians trying to escape into safe areas, use of suicide attacks causing loss to civilian lives etc. LLRC also observes (at Paragraph 4.359 (xii)) that considerable civilian casualties may have occurred due to cross-fire, deliberate firing at civilians by LTTE, dynamics of the conflict situations, the perils of geographical terrain, using civilians as human shields by LTTE and the LTTE’s refusal to let the hostages get out of harm’s way. In this backdrop, doubts exit as to the alleged incidents of abductions and disappearances submitted to LLRC by various persons and the numbers indicated as disappeared. In any event the details with regard to alleged disappearances and abductions mentioned in chapter 4 are insufficient to identify the locations and Units/ Formations. However, the Board recommends to appoint a Board of Inquiry to investigate fully the instances referred to in Chapter 4.
58. LLRC has noted the fact that certain technical experts have taken the view that the Channel 4 video footages have extensive technical and forensic ambiguities suggesting that the video tapes are fakes. LLRC has found as a matter of fact that there are strongly argued points opposing the integrity of the video and the authenticity of the events recorded (paragraphs 4.369 and 4.370). The LLRC had taken steps to obtain an independent opinion from Professor EA Yfantis, professor of computer science at the University of Navada, USA and based on the extensive video graphic and mathematical  analysis of the videos, Professor Yfantis has concluded that the video footage in questions were orchestrated videos: (paragraph 4.372). The LLRC has shared significant doubts expressed in the integrity of the video and concluded that such disinformation would constitute grave damage and injustice to those soldiers who fought professionally and sacrificed their lives to save other innocent lives from LTTE stronghold (paragraph 4.3766). In the premises, this Board recommends to appoint a Board of Inquiry to investigate the matter fully in order to clear the good name of the Sri Lanka Army and also to bring any offenders, to justice.
59. The Board concludes that the Armed Forces had taken every precaution to minimize civilian casualties. However in order to eliminate/minimize civilian casualties and co-lateral damage in future operations, the Board recommends that;
a. To appoint Army Boards on all disciplines such as infantry tactics, special operations, arty fire, Armour employment, joint operations etc in MOUT /FIBUA environments to formulate new doctrines on these aspects.
b. To appoint a Tri Service Board to design military doctrines incorporating new tactical and technical methodologies and utilization of high tech equipment.
60. At present IHL principles applicable in internal war situations have not adequately addressed the various complex issues. The existing rules are seemingly applied to state actors only. Further there is no specific guidelines with regard to the role of International Humanitarian Agencies in internal war situations. Therefore it is recommended that
a. Tri Service Board consisting of legal officers to research and formulate new principles / ROEs for internal war situations incorporating aspects such as unilateral designation of NFZs, imposing mandatory legal obligations on non-state actors to observe Rules of War, the role of International Humanitarian Agencies (ICRC, MSF etc) in Internal war situations etc.
b. To enhance the present IHL/HR Law dissemination programmes to reach all members of the armed forces and to re-design the courses to cover basic, middle level and advanced training on IHL / HR with the help of International Organizations.
61. The Board notes that so called civilian casualties are mainly consisted of LTTE cadres killed in combat, civilians killed by LTTE for political and other reasons and civilians killed by LTTE whilst attempting to flee LTTE held areas. However in the spirit of reconciliation, the board recommends that the Government should implement a system to compensate the Next of Kins of all those killed and injured in the entire Island irrespective of their ethnicities or political affiliations.
62. As outlined in the previous paragraph, the death toll has been highly exaggerated by LTTE and western powers in order to bring discredit to the GOSL. Therefore it is recommended to conduct a professionally designed household survey covering the North & East to ascertain first-hand the scale and the circumstances of death and injury to civilians, as well as damage to property during the period of conflict. At present a census is in progress to cover all households in the North & East.

HUMAN RIGHTS: ACTION PLAN PROPOSED BY THE ARMY BOARD
39. The Board observes that despite the lifting of Emergency and all restrictions in the N & E, LTTE and Tamil Diaspora are conducting a relentless campaign to discredit the GOSL and if foreigners themselves could see the prevailing situation in the North & East that will be an ante-dote to this adverse propaganda. Therefore, in order to counter the negative image portrayed with regard to the condition in the North and East the following actions are proposed;
a. The relevant state agencies (Tourist Board, Government Information Department etc) must conduct a rigorous propaganda campaign to boost up foreign travel and trade in the North and East.
b. The manpower and machinery of the Armed Forces should be utilized to assist the relevant state agencies to develop tourism and hotel industry in the North and East.
40. The Board observes that the S.L. Constitution and the existing legal framework are adequate to safeguard the HRs of the people including the religious and language rights. The board recommends that armed forces should implement policies and programs to foster communal and religious harmony in the forces and conduct programmes to improve PR.
41. The Board observes that during the 30 year old war non-proficiency in Tamil and English languages had placed the SL Army officers/soldiers at a great disadvantage.
Therefore the Board recommends that Armed Forces should develop proficiency in two or more languages. Tamil language and English language teaching programmes should be given priority and incentives to be given for those acquiring two or more languages.
42. The Board observes that the Government has already disarmed/rehabilitated exmilitants groups. In this context the Board proposes that;
a. The police should continue with their present operations to eradicate the proliferation of illegal weapons.
b. An amnesty period should be offered and rewards should be given to persons surrendering arms and ammunition.
c. Ex militants may be absorbed into the police after proper security checks and giving special training.
d. All Ex militants should be given jobs and land in order to absorb them into the normal civil society.
LAND ISSUES RETURN AND RESETTLEMENT: ACTION PLAN PROPOSED BY THE ARMY BOARD
13. The Govt has already taken measures to normalize the life in the North and East. The Emergency has been lifted and people can go about their day to day activities without hindrance. Most of the restrictions which had been previously imposed due to security reasons are no longer imposed except in near vicinities of harbours, naval bases and cantonments and these restrictions generally apply to the entire Island. However even in security sensitive areas local inhabitants are permitted to engage in their day to day activities. The Board recommends that the existing limited restrictions too should be lifted by the end of year 2012.
14. At the conclusion of the humanitarian operation, the civil administration in the North was not in a position to conduct development activities immediately. Hence the Army had to fill the vacuum. Unlike other countries (including occupied Germany and Japan aftermath of WWII) Sri Lanka did not wait for a stabilization period. At a very early stage Sri Lanka initiated rebuilding the North. As the only organized body in the field, the Army gave the impetus to the rehabilitation process. With the re-establishment of Government Writ in the North the Army has totally handed over the civil administration to the civil authorities headed by the Governor and the District Secretaries. The Board recommends that Civil Affairs Officers attached to formation headquarters should continue to function as liaison officers to assist the civil authorities to implement Nation Building Projects.
15. With regard to the presence of Military bases in the North and East, the Board observes that the Government has an absolute right to maintain its armed forces anywhere in the Island according to the strategic and security needs. At present Tamil Diaspora operating from foreign countries are trying to de-stabilize Sri Lanka and so long as foreign governments give them a free hand their activities would pose a clear and present danger to the national security of Sri Lanka. Hence there is an absolute need to locate our armed forces at strategically important locations. However the Board recommends that Military bases should be located in such a manner so as to cause minimum inconvenience to the public.
16. The Army has a huge responsibility in completing demining in the newly resettled areas for the civil population to conduct day to day activities without any mine risk. Therefore the presence of the SLA is very vital until this task is completed and declared the whole area as mine free.
17. LLRC has observed that certain coastal areas in the North and East have been occupied by the Navy. For any insurgency or terrorist movement to sustain in Sri Lanka such groups must be able to obtain their logistical needs from the outside. The Board also notes that in view of trans-border nature of the present day terrorism and increase of piracy in the Indian Ocean, the Navy will be called upon to play a bigger role not only in Brown Waters, but also in Blue Waters, even beyond our territorial limits.
Further it is imperative that Air Force must augment the  surveillance capabilities of the Navy. In this context it is imperative that doctrines with regard to joint services operations should be developed to meet the future threats. 
Therefore the Board recommends that
a. A Tri Service Board should be appointed to formulate doctrines on maritime warfare and costal protection.
b. In order to expand the present Blue water and Brown water capabilities of the Navy, a Board of Officers should be appointed by the Navy to formulate new doctrines on Naval warfare.
c. Air patrolling and maritime surveillance capabilities of the Air Force should be upgraded and in this regard a Board of Officers should be appointed by the Air Force to formulate new doctrines on these aspects.
RESTITUTION/COMPENSATORY RELIEF AND RECONCILIATION:ACTION PLAN PROPOSED BY THE ARMY BOARD
24. The LLRC has made observations with regard to the presence of Military bases in the North and East. The Board observes that the Government has an absolute right to maintain its armed forces anywhere in the Island according to its strategic and security needs. The Board also notes that of Military bases are located causing minimum inconvenience to the public. Aftermath of the Humanitarian operations many HSZs/lands previously occupied by the Armed Forces have been released to the public.
However the Board recommends that;
a. Armed Forces should appoint special boards to find out the extent of HSZs and other formal or informal occupation of properties by each force. The same board to review the need to occupy these properties and forward recommendations to release HSZs and other properties as much as possible having considered the present national security needs in perspective. The board should give priority to release private houses/lands and religious places when making recommendations.
b. Land that is identified to be vitally required for security purposes based on this joint assessment are to be legally acquired at the market rates and in addition owners should be given alternative lands.
25. The Board observes that during the 30 years of war, LTTE terrorists had laid mines indiscriminately violating all International norms governing mine warfare. Therefore SLA has been entrusted with the daunting task of demining the liberated areas. Hence the presence of the SLA is very vital until this task is completed. It is
noted that the Sri Lanka Army engineers have accounted for 90% of the demining effort. It is re-recommended to increase the number of humanitarian demining units (HDU) with sophisticated demining equipment. This will also enable the Sri Lanka Army to undertake demining operations worldwide in future.
26. LLRC has made observations to demilitarize the North and East as rapidly as possible and handover the administration to Civil authorities. However the Board observes that the civil administration has already been handed over to the civil authorities. It is also be noted that Tamil Diaspora domiciled in foreign countries and certain extremist political parties are trying to de-stabilize Sri Lanka. Hence as long as this thereat exits, it is imperative that Armed Forces should closely monitor the security situation in the country and to this end they must be located in security sensitive areas.
Hence the Government has an absolute right to station Armed Forces at places which are strategically important. However the board observes that at present the police are in total control and Armed Forces are confined to static duties at key points. The Board recommends a gradual withdrawal of armed forces from all public security duties.
27. The Board observe that the Government Civil Machinery is completely in control of the civil administration in the North and East. However with the rapid development programmes that are underway in the North and East the Armed Forces are required to support the civil authorities in some of these tasks. The board recommends that in order to ensure the close coordination with the civil administration, Civil Affairs Officers attached to formation headquarters should be functioned as the principle liaison officers between the civil administration and the military. It is also proposed to establish a Directorate of Civil Affairs under the Director General Staff Branch to coordinate CIMIC programmes.
28. The committee agrees that in many countries the Police do come under the Home Ministry or Provincial Administration. However these countries do not face wide spread internal disorders. Police in countries that face such threats (example India during the Mumbai attack) have proved to be total failures. Therefore the committee recommends that the Police in Sri Lanka should be placed under the Ministry of Defence at all times. It is proposed that a Ministry of Defence Board should study and make recommendations with regard to the Role of Police as a Counter – terrorism agency.

CONCLUSION
1. This Board has analyzed the LLRC Report in detail and notes that the Tamils who were the 1st and last victims of LTTE terrorism have paid glowing tribute to the Armed Forces for their exemplary conduct during the Humanitarian Operation.
2. The Armed Forces had been the unwitting actors in the 30 year old tragi-comedy which finally concluded on 19th May 2009. Although the Armed Forces are called upon to take actions on the LLRC recommendations (which they will do in their customary efficiency), it is the civil society who is required to do or undo most of the recommendations made by the LLRC. In the South Asian context, the Police, civil service and the judiciary who are the most vital elements in counter – insurgency/ counter – terrorism operations had been most conspicuous by their lackluster performance during the 30 year old war.
3. When the war broke out in 1983 the Government in power or the Ministry of Defence had no coherent strategy to counter the LTTE. Hence a rag-tag terrorist group which started with revolvers and shotguns had developed into mini Army running a defacto state until the able political leadership of H.E Mahinda Rajapaksa and the administrative leadership of Secretary Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa had decided to wipe out the LTTE from the face of the Earth.
4. In the war of liberation the Armed Forces had made tremendous sacrifices. The casualties suffered by the Army alone would reveal the scene from July 2006 (Mavi Aru) to May 2009 (Nanthi Kadal) 5275 were KIA, 28,189 were WIA, and 140 were MIA. This is for the whole operation. In nearly two and a half years the Army captured 13,787 sq km, traversing 97km West to East and 93 km South to North. During the period March to May 2009, the final phase, Army casualties were 1128 KIA, 6166 WIA and 10 MIA. In brief, almost one-fourth of the Army losses that occurred during the entire two and a half year operation were sustained in the final stages.
5. Even prior to the LLRC Report the Army had initiated a complete re-evaluation of our doctrines, tactics and administrative aspects and it will definitely take cognizance of the recommendations made by LLRC Report and will initiate the necessary command and administrative measures that are required to implement them.

RECOMMENDED ACTION PLAN BY THE ARMY BOARD
1. To appoint various Army and Tri Service Boards that have been referred to in chapters 1, 2 and 3 with regard to formulation of new Doctrines for MOUT/FIBUA environments.
2. To appoint an Army Board of Inquiry that has been referred to in Chapter 1 to investigate the Channel 4 video footages.
3. To appoint a Tri Service Legal Officers Board to formulate new principles and ROEs for Internal war situation.
4. To appoint Army and Tri Service Boards to formulate new Doctrines on various aspects that are referred to in Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4.
5. To appoint a Tri Service Board to examine the existing HSZs/ lands occupied by Armed Forces as referred to in the Chapter 3 and make recommendations.
6. To establish a Directorate of Veteran Affairs at the AHQ. A Board to be appointed to submit its proposals outlining the role, tasks etc of this Directorate.
7. To implement all recommendations that have been made in previous Chapters.
(Ends)
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