Transitional justice processes are nothing like ‘witch hunts’ and they do not involve massive purges, and do not trade on charges of collective responsibility or guilt by association, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence said.
Mr. Pablo de Greiff made these observations at a press briefing held in Colombo today (23), on the conclusion of his 14-day official country visit to Sri Lanka.
He also noted with concern the use of rhetoric such as ‘war heroes will never be brought to trial.’
He stated that this seems to him to misrepresent the target of transitional justice accountability measures by suggesting that it is a generally anti-security agenda, and also by forgetting that no one who has committed violations of human rights law or of the laws of war deserves to be called a hero.
The Special Rapporteur added that the promise mentioned above regarding ‘war heroes’ is a legally unenforceable political statement, and therefore cannot offer any real security.
“In order to make it effective it would ultimately require a violation of the principle of the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, amongst others.”
“Moreover, needless to say, it offers absolutely no warranty internationally.
Mr. de Greiff stated that as the recent case presented in Brazil against a former member of the Armed Forces demonstrates, accountability will be sought either here or abroad.
In my opinion, this is an additional reason for the country, with the full support of the Armed Forces –who stand a lot to gain from this process– to establish a robust and credible comprehensive transitional justice policy, he said.
Providing his recommendations, the UN Special Rapporteur called for the adoption of a comprehensive Transitional Justice Strategy that includes a clear calendar for the implementation of the different transitional justice mechanisms, including truth, justice, reparations, and guarantees of non-recurrence, identifies needs in terms of budget, staff and required expertise, and outlines the links between the different elements of the strategy. He also urged to allow for public consultation of the plan.
He stated that the Government should take advantage of the report of the National Consultations on the Reconciliation Mechanisms carried out by the Consultation Task Force.
The report identifies expectations, needs, challenges and priorities as expressed by key stakeholders and could be invaluable to align the Government’s designs with the needs of the victims, he said.
“Thus far, Sri Lanka has regrettably underutilized the support offered by the United Nations. The country should particularly tap more into expertise,” he stressed.