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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Act with restraint in responding to UN SG advisory panel report – Friday Forum

Former Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala on behalf of ‘Friday Forum’, a collective of concerned citizens calls upon all parties to act with restraint in responding to the Secretary General of the United Nations over the UN advisory committee report.

Full text of the statement:

The Friday Forum is deeply concerned over the initial reactions to the leaked sections of the report of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka both within Sri Lanka and abroad.

A full and fair assessment of the report has necessarily to await the official release of the entire report. This will indicate whether the Panel has exceeded its mandate of advising the UN Secretary General “on the issue of accountability with regard to any alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka”. It may also help clarify how state sovereignty and the applicability of international norms on human rights and humanitarian law can be reconciled in this instance. There may be substance of the report we disagree with but also substance that will be worth engaging, and we as citizens of Sri Lanka need to engage in a constructive manner with the report in the best interest of our fellow citizens.

We call upon all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violent speech and action. The durability of the hard won peace in Sri Lanka after three decades of bitter conflict and the enormous task of reconciliation, rehabilitation and development can only be set back by a confrontational situation involving the Government of Sri Lanka, the UN Secretary General, various groups within Sri Lanka and within the International community.

Emotional wounds suffered during the conflict can be exacerbated by extreme nationalist reactions on the one hand and clumsy external intervention on the other. We urge the government to exercise maximum restraint and effective diplomacy and dialogue in responding to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

The Government of Sri Lanka appointed the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission last year and the Friday Forum, collectively and through individual members, has been pleased to co-operate with it in fulfilling its tasks.

We earnestly appeal to all concerned to await the final report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission so that all possibilities are kept open for national processes for reconciliation, truth and justice to unfold consistent with the highest standards of human rights and international humanitarian law.


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