Accountability process in Sri Lanka must be international, urges HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an international accountability process to address international humanitarian law violations in Sri Lanka, at a statement delivered to the UN Human Rights Council.

“This session marks a midway point in the time given to the Sri Lankan government to demonstrate its willingness to cooperate on human rights issues,” said Human Rights Watch.

The statement continued to say,

hrw“In establishing a credible and transparent justice and accountability process, the new government in Sri Lanka should ensure genuine consultations with those affected by violations, ensure that any mechanism be either international or at a minimum, include a majority of international judges and prosecutors, take immediate steps towards resolving key outstanding issues, and keep its promise to the UN to fully cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and allow it full access to any new or additional information it may require”.

The UNHRC mandated an investigation into reports of international humanitarian law committed during the final phases of the armed conflict on the island, where tens of thousands of Tamils were massacred. The UN report, being compiled by the OHCHR, is due to be released in August.

Sri Lanka has so far refused to allow investigators access to the island and any reported massacre sites.

HRW also highlighted steps that Sri Lanka must take including: “clarifying the fate of the disappeared; addressing land issues; and the immediate ending of continuing forms of harassment, violence and unjustified surveillance of civil society and victims of rights abuses”.