The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute says it is disappointed by the recent resolution of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka condemning both the appointment of the UN expert panel and its subsequent report.
IBA-HRI says in a statement the panel was appointed to advise the UN secretary-general on issues of accountability with regard to international humanitarian and human rights law violations allegedly committed by both the government of Sri Lanka and the insurgent LTTE during the final stages of the internal armed conflict in Sri Lanka.
Nevertheless, the BASL denounces the findings and recommendations of the report and calls upon the UN chief to refrain from taking any action aimed at directly or otherwise implementing the recommendations of the said panel of experts.
The establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into alleged war crimes and human rights violations is one of the recommendations to which the BASL objects.
‘We believe that bar associations are uniquely placed to play a vital, leading role in the promotion of human rights, the rule of law and the fair administration of justice,’ said Sternford Moyo, IBAHRI co-chair.
‘Accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law is fundamental to the rule of law and the United Nations’ mandate to maintain international peace and security. We note with regret and disappointment the resolution of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka’.
Following the recent broadcast of the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 News documentary, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’, the IBAHRI expressed grave concern in relation to the increasing amount of evidence of alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by both sides during the conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE.
‘The IBA strives to promote the rule of law and the principles and aims of the United Nations and holds these goals collectively with its member bar associations. These principles were embodied in the work of the late Desmond Fernando PC, the former President of the BASL and the first Sri Lankan President of the International Bar Association, who fought tirelessly to strengthen the independence of the Sri Lankan legal profession and its efforts to uphold human rights and the rule of law.’ said Dr Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director.
‘We urge the Bar Association of Sri Lanka to take a lead in advocating for constructive engagement with the international community on the issue of accountability and for a thorough investigation of alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law to achieve the shared goals of justice, reconciliation, and lasting peace for the people of Sri Lanka.’ he said.