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* OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka will continue to seek engagement with the Government
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 12:42 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 05, Geneva: The international investigation on Sri Lanka that will be conducted by the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) as mandated by the UN Human Rights Council has officially begun in Geneva.

The Council has requested the High Commissioner to present an oral update on the investigation at its 27th session and a comprehensive report on the investigations at its 28th session and in accordance with this mandate, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has established the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), based in Geneva.

According to the final framework and investigation methodology to proceed with its operations agreed by the OHCHR and made public Monday, the OISL will probe the period from 21 February 2002 until 15 November 2011, the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), from the day the ceasefire agreement was signed to the day LLRC presented its report to the President.

The OISL will also take into consideration any contextual and other relevant information that may fall outside this timeframe which may provide a better understanding of events or which may be pertinent regarding continuing human rights violations.

The mandate of the OISL requires it to undertake investigations into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties to the conflict. The legal framework is the same as applied by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. The OISL is required to apply international criminal law to the incidents and events under investigation in determining whether crimes have been perpetrated.

As required by the Council resolution, the OISL will also obtain the assistance of specific special procedures mandate holders including on extrajudicial executions, disappearances, internally displaced persons, arbitrary detentions, violence against women and torture.

In order to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged violations, abuses and crimes by both parties, the OISL will

-conduct a desk review of existing documents and information, including government and civil society reports,

-collect and document victims' testimonies and the accounts of survivors, witnesses and alleged perpetrators,

-seek information from other relevant sources such as satellite images, authenticated video and photographic material and official documents.

In analyzing the information collected, it will seek to corroborate facts and accounts to meet the agreed standard of proof.

The OISL will continue to seek to engage with the Government of Sri Lanka, as envisioned in the Council resolution. The High Commissioner will continue to request for the OISL to have access to the country to meet with Government officials and others, as well as to have access to all relevant documentation.

The OISL will seek to develop regular dialogue and cooperation with other United Nations entities, including its specialized agencies, interested institutions and academics and non-governmental and community organizations.

Any state, individual or organization may submit information in writing to the OISL. Submissions to the OISL may be sent to: oisl_submissions@ohchr.org.

The OISL assures to take appropriate steps to address witness and victim protection concerns and will adopt procedures and methods of work aimed at protecting such persons during all stages of its work.

The OISL reminds that the government also has an obligation to protect victims and witnesses and others in Sri Lanka who make contact with the OISL, and requests the government to ensure that no one will suffer harassment, threats, acts of intimidation, ill-treatment or reprisals as a result of contact with OISL.

The OISL assures that it will take all necessary measures and precautions to protect the confidentiality of information, including by not disclosing the names of individuals in its public reports as appropriate. At the end of its work, the OISL will archive all its confidential material in accordance with standard UN procedures for strictly confidential material.

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