Feb 23, Colombo: IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and the Sri Lankan Secretariat for Coordinating the Reconciliation Mechanism (SCRM), from February 22-23 host a two-day international conference on reparations for conflict victims in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
This is the first International dialogue on reparations held in Sri Lanka since the end of the country's long-drawn-out conflict in 2009.
The conference follows a UN Human Rights Council Resolution on the need to promote "reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka" and a government decision, following national consultations in 2016, to actively promote reconciliation, including a system of victim reparations, that will contribute to a lasting peace.
Mano Tittawella, Secretary General, Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms, Sri Lanka, noted that "reparations are essential in leading to a process of reconciliation and is should be done in parallel to a process on truth, justice, and non-recurrence."
UN Resolution 60/147 (2005) upholds the right to reparations for persons who collectively suffered harm through acts or omissions that constitute gross violations of international human rights law, and affirms the obligation of states to provide reparations as imperative on the basis of international law.
Experience from other countries shows that reparations through judicial processes (criminal or civil) are not necessarily feasible for countries with a large and diverse number of cases, for which comprehensive reparations (also known as administrative reparations) often represent the most viable and inclusive option available.
Reparations programs can be legally anchored in different frameworks: some may result from an international litigation process (e.g., the German Forced Labor Programme), some are reliant on the recommendations of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (e.g., Sierra Leone), others are founded on dedicated legislation, peace agreements, or a combination of both (e.g., Colombia).
"Transitional justice is a relatively new field which, on a daily basis, is being expanded and enriched through experiences, both positive and negative, from many different societies across the globe. A solution in one country or community does not necessarily work for others, particularly in relation to finding the right balance between what is desirable and what is feasible," said IOM Sri Lanka Chief of Mission Giuseppe Crocetti.
"It takes a whole of society approach to move from a divided past to a shared future and that is the underlying theme of this conference," he added.
The conference brought together some 150 participants from the government and non-government sectors, development partners, UN, local and international NGOs, civil society organizations, victim groups, academics, experts and other relevant stakeholders. It aims to provide a platform for mutual dialogue and consultation based on international best practices and lessons learnt from other reconciliation processes.
The key elements of a legitimate, fair, transparent and efficient transitional justice process are inclusivity, victim participation, feasibility and effectiveness. In such a model, the restorative justice mechanisms, such as reparations for human rights violations in conflict, can deliver meaningful benefits to the most affected population, thereby empowering the victims to have more capacity to engage in other aspects of the process, noted Crocetti.
In Sri Lanka, IOM has been working closely with the SCRM in the reparations domain since 2016, initially though Sasakawa Endowment Fund, later with financial assistance from the Government of Australia, and more recently via the UN Peacebuilding Fund.
IOM's work in reparations in Sri Lanka is guided by, and fits within its country approach to social cohesion and reconciliation.
More information can be obtained by contacting Giuseppe Crocetti at IOM Sri Lanka. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +94115325354