British Tamils Forum welcomes the report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), as an important documentation of the injustices inflicted on the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state. It clearly identifies various counts of crimes committed against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state, whilst noting without any ambiguity that the Sri Lankan state is not capable of domestically investigating these crimes.
British Tamils Forum considers the resulting consensus resolution as the first step on a long journey alongside the international community towards genuine accountability, reconciliation and stability on the island of Sri Lanka.
We urge the International Community to ensure that the ensuing processes are not compromised or hijacked by a Sri Lankan domestic process in which the victims will have no faith. Consultation with victims, their representatives and civil society organisations is paramount in the design, implementation and monitoring stages of the process formulation. A robust witness protection system for the victims and witnesses within and outside Sri Lanka is extremely important for them to come forward and their protection from persecution by Sri Lanka.
Noting that several measures remain to be taken to gain the trust of the majority victim Tamil community, we express concern at the sentiment of Sri Lanka’s domestic statements on the passing of the consensus resolution at the UNHRC. We urge the newly elected Sri Lankan government to work with the international community and use the resolution for the intended purpose; the implementation of the high commissioners recommendations and delivering long-term stability on the island through a political settlement that respects the democratic wish of the Tamil People for self-rule.
Any credible justice process, as stated by the high commissioner must have strong international involvement. While we acknowledge Sri Lanka’s acceptance of ‘foreign and commonwealth’ judges, it is clear that any process will require a majority of international judges prosecutors and investigators to build the confidence of the Tamil victims.
Though the passing of a consensus resolution at the UNHRC marks the first step towards justice and reconciliation, it must be noted that the ground realities for the victims in the North-East are yet to change. In the spirit of building confidence with the war affected community in the North-East we urge Sri Lanka to commit to de-militarising the North-East, allow international NGOs and the OHCHR to establish a presence in the region, release a comprehensive list of all those detained at the end of the war to the international community and de-proscribe the Tamil diaspora organisations and named individuals.
BTF has been heavily involved in contributing to the process that has brought Sri Lanka to this new juncture. We remain committed to engaging with all stakeholders to ensure that the Tamil people inside and outside of Sri Lanka see a future of justice, reconciliation and a political settlement that meets their aspirations whilst bringing stability to the island of Sri Lanka. We urge the international community to stay engaged and maintain pressure on the government of Sri Lanka to ensure that the Tamil people see an end to ongoing violations and an era of justice and genuine political settlement to the National conflict in the island.