Feb 28, The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) Thursday urged the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish an independent and international inquiry into alleged war crimes and past violations of human rights law in Sri Lanka as called for by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in her report.
In a release, IBAHRI Co-Chair Baroness Helena Kennedy said since the end of the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger terrorists LTTE, checks and balances on executive power systematically declined.
The IBAHRI has noted that on multiple occasions Sri Lanka's legal system, in the absence of an independent judiciary, was unable to provide redress for alleged human rights violations and war crimes and therefore, IBAHRI has decided to fully support the recommendations put forward in Pillay's report and called on the UNNRC to adopt those recommendations in the forthcoming resolution on Sri Lanka.
Pillay's Report includes recommendations to the Sri Lankan Government and to the UNHRC, ahead of its 25th Session, 3-28 March 2014, in Geneva, where it is due to consider the US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka.
In her report released on February 24, Pillay recommends that the UNHRC establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and monitor any domestic accountability processes.
Her key recommendations to the Sri Lankan Government include:
'Arrest, prosecute and punish perpetrators of attacks on minority communities, media and human rights defenders, and ensure protection of victims';
'Undertake independent and credible criminal and forensic investigations with international assistance into all alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including recently discovered mass graves'; and
'Establish a truth-seeking mechanism and national reparations policy in accordance with international standards as an integral part of a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to transitional justice.'
International Bar Association Executive Director Mark Ellis commented that there has not been a "single successful prosecution for the numerous attacks against minorities, journalists and human rights defenders in Sri Lanka in relation to the country's civil war."
"In order for there to be sustainable peace in Sri Lanka, it is essential to hold proper investigations and prosecutions into the alleged war crimes and human rights violations of the past committed by both sides, as well as to establish an independent and effective justice system that properly protects against, and provides reparation for any future violations. We are hopeful that the UNHRC debate will take the first step in establishing accountability," Ellis said.