A group of eminent persons from various countries has called upon the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish an international independent judicial process under UN auspices to go into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.
In an open letter, the group contended that “very little has changed” since the Council adopted a resolution in March 2014, setting up an international investigation into allegations of crimes committed during and since the war through the Office of the UN High Commissioner’s Investigation on Sri Lanka or OISL.
The proposed international process should have the elements of application of international criminal law, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; consultation on the mechanism’s design with all affected groups, especially victims; independent operation and adequate funding; guarantees of witness protection; access to information from all sources, including government and military and the appointment of independent and competent personnel.
Appreciating the Sri Lankan government for making “commendable progress” confronting corruption and instituting democratic reforms, the group, however, said: “these reforms, however, while welcome, should not be confused with justice for victims.” It argued that democracy was being restored in Sri Lanka’s south “while the largely Tamil lands of the North [and] East remain under military occupation.” Despite the talk of reconciliation, the administration had not “acted on an essential confidence-building measure: releasing the names and details of prisoners it holds or who surrendered at the end of the war,” added the group which included Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua; Miloon Kothari, former Special UN Rapporteur on the Right to Housing; Medha Patkar, Indian social activist; David Rampton of the London School of Economics and Political Science; Frances Harrison author; Callum Macrae, film maker and Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the US-based Oakland Institute.
Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, M.K. Shivajilingam and Ananthy Sasitharan, members of the Tamil National Alliance in the Northern Provincial Council, along with others, concluded a five-day walk this evening in Nallur of Jaffna, demanding an international mechanism. They began their walk in Killinochchi last week.