The High Commissioner’s report marks a significant step towards justice and accountability for the victims of international crimes and the family members of Sri Lanka’s dead and disappeared. The international investigative team has extensively documented alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, executions and enforced disappearances.
Victims of Sri Lanka’s war have campaigned tirelessly for justice for years, often at considerable personal risk, particularly under the former Rajapaksa administration. The High Commissioner’s call for a hybrid court to address these demands is crucial. The Sri Lankan government, having asked for trust, needs to seize on this opportunity to deliver meaningful and expeditious justice.
The OISL report and its recommendation for a hybrid justice mechanism is a tremendous victory for victims on all sides of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Finally, six years after the end of a three-decade long war, the international community stepped into the space vacated by the Sri Lankan government and did what the government has thus far failed to do: listen to the pain, deliver answers.
There can be no turning back. Now the government of Sri Lanka and the international community needs to engage credibly, promptly and effectively to see these recommendations implemented. The High Commissioner in calling for a hybrid accountability mechanism recognized that Sri Lanka’s past efforts at delivering justice were designed to fail. To ensure that victims on all sides obtain the justice they have long sought, it is imperative that this mechanism have a majority of international judges and an international prosecutor.
The High Commissioner’s call for a hybrid accountability mechanism is an important step, but does not mark the end of the campaign for justice. The strong recommendations in the report demand an equally strong response. The international community needs to respond robustly to the High Commissioner’s report, through technical, financial and expert support. And the credibility of the Council and its members requires that the High Commissioner’s recommendations be reflected in a resolution adopted this session, and that the Council remain seized of the implementation of these important recommendations until justice is finally delivered.”