On 23 March 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council (“HRC”) adopted the Resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,’ (A/HRC/34/L.1). Resolution 34/L.1 reaffirms the full and proper implementation of HRC Resolution 30/1 of October 2015, and gives the Government of Sri Lanka (“GSL”) two more years beyond 2017 to fulfill its international commitments on reconciliation and transitional justice.
Whilst the Monitoring Accountability Panel (“MAP”) welcomes Resolution 34/L.1 and recognises the HRC’s continued engagement, it notes with concern that Resolution 34/L.1 does not set strict benchmarks and deadlines for implementing the transitional justice mechanisms established in HRC 30/1. Based on the lack significant progress seen thus far, simply providing time frames for the GSL and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report on the implementation of Resolution 30/1 at the 37th and 40th HRC Sessions is not enough to ensure that the GSL abides by its commitments and obligations.
Similarly, Resolution 34/L.1 fails to acknowledge that the GSL has been acting in bad faith, which continues to be the main challenge towards meeting its obligations to victims. The MAP reiterates its position that:
“Should the Government of Sri Lanka continue to act in bad faith and/or fail to take significant steps towards implementing the word and spirit of HRC Resolution 30/1, the United Nations Security Council should, within one year, refer the Sri Lanka situation to the International Criminal Court.” (See MAP Second Spot Report, dated 28 February 2017).
On 9 March 2017, the Monitoring Accountability Panel (“MAP”) held a side
event at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. This event
followed the publication of MAP’s Second Spot Report (dated 28 February).
International lawyer Richard J Rogers reiterated MAP’s position that the
Government of Sri Lanka has been acting in bad faith and is neither willing
nor able to establish a hybrid court, with meaningful participation of foreign
judges and prosecutors, to prosecute those most responsible for the atrocities
committed during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict. According to Rogers:
“The Government of Sri Lanka has failed to meet it commitments
under the Human Rights Council Resolution of October 2015 and has
breached its legal obligations to victims. If it continues in this vein, the
UN Security Council should refer Sri Lanka to the International
Criminal Court to prosecute those most responsible.”
MAP welcomed the recommendations of the High Commissioner on Human
Rights in his (Advance) Report on Sri Lanka, dated 10 February 2017.
Consistent with the view of MAP, the High Commissioner recommended “a
hybrid court, which should include international judges, defence lawyers,
prosecutors and investigators.” Rogers also agreed with the High
Commissioner’s recommendation that Member States should: “Wherever
possible, in particular under universal jurisdiction, investigate and prosecute those allegedly responsible for such violations as torture, enforced
disappearance, war crimes and crimes against humanity.” According to
“By recommending that third States step in to prosecute alleged war
criminals under universal jurisdiction, the High Commissioner has
shown that he is losing faith in the Sri Lankan Government’s
willingness to bring justice to hundreds of thousands of victims.”
Richard J. Rogers and Andrew Ianuzzi represented the MAP at an event held during the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. During the presentation, the MAP recommended Sri Lanka be referred to the International Criminal Court if the government fails to implement Resolution A/HRC/30/L.29.
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Accountability Panel issues its Second Spot Report to coincide with the briefing of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, to the Human Rights Council at its 34th regular session.
Today the Sri Lanka Monitoring Accountability Panel (‘MAP’) issues its Second Spot Report. The international legal experts provide an independent assessment of the transitional justice efforts by the Sri Lankan Government, and recommendations going forward.
The Second Spot Report coincides with the briefing of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, to the Human Rights Council at its 34th regular session. The Sri Lankan Government will undoubtedly claim that much progress has been made to fulfil its commitments under the October 2015 Resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.’ The MAP’s assessment, however, demonstrates the opposite. In fact:
“It has become increasingly obvious in recent months that what little political will existed on the part of the current Government of Sri Lanka one year ago has now evaporated, almost entirely. Seemingly, the Sirisena administration has been acting in bad faith for some time with respect to its commitments under the HRC Resolution.”
Whilst international justice processes can take a long time to implement, the Government of Sri Lanka could and should have made significant progress by now. Yet not a single concrete step has been taken towards establishing a war crimes court. Considering the scale and brutality of the crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict, this inaction amounts to an unconscionable violation of Sri Lanka’s obligations to its victims. This has led the MAP to recommend, amongst other actions, that:
“Should the Government of Sri Lanka continue to act in bad faith and/or fail to take significant steps towards implementing the word and spirit of HRC Resolution 30/1, the United Nations Security Council should, within one year, refer the Sri Lanka situation to the International Criminal Court.”
On 28 February 2017, the Monitoring Accountability Panel (“MAP”) will issue its Second Spot Report, which will coincide with the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council (the ‘HRC’) scheduled for 27 February to 24 March 2017 in Geneva. In the 27-page report, the MAP’s international legal experts will outline their assessment of the Sri Lankan Government’s transitional justice efforts to date, and provide recommendations going forward.
Since co-sponsoring the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,’ (A/HRC/30/L.29, October 2015), the Sri Lankan President and Government Ministers have backtracked on their commitments to implement effectively the four transitional justice pillars. In particular, the Sri Lankan Government has reversed its own pledge to include foreign judges and prosecutors in a special war crimes court, and appears intent on ignoring legitimate recommendations of the Consultation Task Force.
In its Second Spot Report, the MAP will analyse these and other issues and provide its views on whether or not the Sri Lankan Government has fulfilled its legal obligations to the victims of mass human rights abuses.
The Final Report of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTF) was completed on November 2016.
Volume I of the Final Report contains the CTF’s observations during the consultation process, as well as their recommendations regarding the four transitional justice mechanisms: Office of Reparations; Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Non-Recurrence Commission; Office on Missing Persons; and Judicial Mechanism.
Volume II contains the reports of the Zonal Task Forces submitted to the CTF after the conclusion of public meetings and focus group discussions in the zones.
The Final Report of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTF) was completed on November 2016. The Final Report contains the CTF’s observations and recommendations regarding the four transitional justice mechanisms proposed by the Government of Sri Lanka, as well as a summary of the submissions.
The Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms conducted public consultations on the design of transitional justice mechanisms in Sri Lanka. The Interim Report provides a summary of the submissions as well as recommendations regarding the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons.