Sri Lanka must ensure justice, accountability: Amnesty

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s ambitious plans for reform and reconciliation should lay special emphasis on ensuring justice, accountability and the rule of law, Amnesty International India said Sunday.

Sirisena arrives here Sunday on a three-day official visit during which he will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bilateral talks.

“Sirisena has an extraordinary opportunity to improve relations between communities in Sri Lanka, and usher in an era of true reconciliation based on justice, equality, freedom and dignity,” said Shemeer Babu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India.

13+“The new government’s 100-day reform plan has generated a lot of optimism. Sirisena has taken important steps to restore the independence of the judiciary and other important institutions.

“It is crucial that the government does not neglect issues of justice and accountability.

“Sirisena acknowledged in his Independence Day speech that Sri Lanka had failed to heal divisions between ethnic groups since the end of the brutal civil war,” the statement said.

“His government must now act to end discrimination and impunity, ensure impartial investigations into human rights abuses, and protect free speech.

“It is important that the international community supports Sri Lanka through these initiatives, beginning with India, which is one of its closest and most important partners.

“Prime Minister Modi should extend all support to President Sirisena and work with him to push reforms in the crucial areas of justice and accountability.”

Sirisena has promised that Sri Lanka will conduct domestic investigations into alleged crimes under international law, including allegations that both Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE committed war crimes during the armed conflict.

These investigations must be conducted promptly and in good faith, with independence, adequate resources and effective witness protection, the rights body said.

Domestic investigations will not negate the need for continued international action and engagement to ensure justice and accountability in Sri Lanka, Amnesty said.

The government must cooperate with the UN, including the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL).