Pillay Demands Independent Probe into Lanka War Crime
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on Wednesday recommended that the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) establish an “independent international inquiry mechanism” to further investigate the alleged violation of international Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws in Sri Lanka, and also monitor domestic processes in this regard.
“This is essential to advance the right to truth for all in Sri Lanka and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress,” Pillay said in her report to the UNHRC session in Geneva.
The 47-member UNHRC will be voting on a US-sponsored resolution critical of Lanka on Thursday.
“We regret to report that there has been little progress in other critical areas identified by the Council in resolution 22/1 and by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, notably the need to ensure independent and credible investigations into past violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” Pillay’s report said.
The Government of Sri Lanka has not responded positively to repeated offers of technical assistance by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to advance the accountability and reconciliation agenda, the report pointed out.
“We are also disturbed by the continued harassment and intimidation targeting human rights defenders in Sri Lanka, even while this session has been underway,” it said.
“Almost five years since the end of the conflict, it is important for the Human Rights Council to recall the magnitude and gravity of the violations alleged to have been committed at that time by the Government and the LTTE, which left thousands of civilians killed, injured or missing. Failure to address the grief and trauma among victims and survivors undermines confidence in the State and reconciliation,” the report said.
The report observed that in recent years, the Government has established various mechanisms with the task to investigate past violations. But none have had the independence to be effective.
“At the same time, new evidence continues to emerge, and witnesses are willing to come forward to testify before international mechanisms in which they have confidence and which can guarantee their protection,” it pointed out.
“This shows that an international inquiry is not only warranted, but also possible, and can play a positive role in eliciting new information and establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed,” report concluded.