Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on advice and technical assistance

for the Government of Sri Lanka on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka  The high commissioner reaffirms her call for an independent international investigation (para 64).


What the Government’s commission (the LLRC) said was required.
A restoration of the rule of law

What the High Commissioner says the Government of Sri Lanka has actually done.
- Many emergency provisions remain, eg: the Prevention of Terrorism Act used to arrest Jaffna Students recently (para 15) - Impeachment of the Chief Justice (para 16) - Series of attacks & acts of intimidation against Judges & judicial officers which could undermine the independence of judiciary (para 16) - These recommendations were not included in the implementation plan (National Action Plan) (para 17) - 2 prison riots in 2012 in which 29 people killed. The Government claims investigations are in progress but no information is available (para 21) - The Government says there is not enough evidence for indictments. More than 5 years has passed and 6 years since the incidents took place (para 20) - No arrests or prosecutions relating to disappearances (para 22) - The National Action Plan did not include a recommendation to cooperate with the Red Cross to trace missing people (para 25) - It did not include a recommendation to offer legal aid and psychological support (para 26) - This has been assigned to the military. It is unclear how this will function when families believe government forces are responsible for the disappearances (para 25) - It is difficult for families to access the information due to uncooperative and sometimes hostile behavior of State officials. (para 32) - This is no substitute for investigating the circumstance of an individual’s death (para 26) - There is no new mechanism to do this, it relies on existing systems that have failed to resolve these cases (para 27) - Sri Lanka agreed to do this but from 2011 to mid-2012 we saw more disappearances, including of political activists & family members (para 29) - The plan instructs the military to do this! Clearly this cannot work (para 30) - There is a lack of clarity as to how this will

Investigate actions leading to deaths of civilians, torture & extrajudicial killings

Implement recommendations from the 2006 inquiry into disappearances. A comprehensive approach to Missing Persons

Create database of the missing and the detained.

Issue Death Certificates Appoint Special Commissioner of Investigation for Disappeared Pass Law Against disappearance A full investigation into those disappearing in 2009 while surrendering to the military Detainee rights monitored

Review long term detainees’ cases Former Tamil Tigers (LTTE) to be put on trial A rehabilitation process for former Tamil Tigers (LTTE)

Appoint a Committee on internally displaced people

Investigate attacks on Journalists

Demilitarisation recommended

The 13th (devolution) amendment should be implemented There is a need for Commemorative Gestures

happen (para 31) - The plan says to use the existing system to address the issue. Clearly this is not enough (para 34) - The Government representatives gave different accounts as to the quantity, functionality and location of the courts! (para 34) - There are concerns around the non-voluntary nature of the process, lack of procedural safeguards, and deprivation of liberty (para 35) - After rehabilitation the persons are continually monitored and multiple military and intelligence agencies visit their homes and work places (para 36) - There is a major Government reconstruction program but standard of housing & access to basic amenities varies enormously (para 39) - There is a lack of clarity on Government policy on land ownership issues (para 42) - A Media Ministry is to promote “responsible journalism” which is not an adequate response to safety concerns and could lead to greater media control (para 43) - Several journalists have been harassed and attacked in 2012 (para 45) - No action has been taken against the Minister who made vicious public attacks on human rights activists in Geneva last year (para 45) - There is deep involvement of the military in civilian matters – preventing capacity building (para 46) - The Military occupies civilian land (para 49) - Civilians have to give notice to military if they want to hold any public gathering no matter the size or social purpose (para 49) - The Military presence makes women and girls vulnerable to violence and harassment (para 50) - Far from being implemented there have been calls for its repeal (para 52) - There are memorials to soldiers but nothing for civilians – they use triumphalist images (para 55) - LTTE cemeteries have been destroyed (para 55)

Conclusion and recommendations (para 62) Despite the Government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC)’s flaws it came up with valuable recommendations. But the Government has only promised to implement some of the recommendations and has not worked with civil society on these. Attempts to investigate allegations of serious violations of human rights have been inconclusive and lack independence and impartiality. (para 63) The high commissioner recommends that the Government of Sri Lanka:

     

Accept her previous offers of advice. Especially advice on: - Establishing a truth seeking mechanism (ie a proper accountability system) - Holding criminal and forensic investigations - Drafting laws on witness protection - Making national institutions (like the Human Rights Commission) more independent. - Developing a reparations policy. Let in the eight senior UN officials (special rapporteurs and special procedures mandate holders - listed in para 8) that have requested visits but have not received an answer. Hold consultations on improving the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). Trace all missing persons, and appoint a commissioner for missing persons. Allow independent observers to witness the trial of former Tamil Tigers (LTTE). Publish the Presidential Commission of Enquiry into disappearances of 2006. Work towards reducing the role of the military and giving power to minorities. Engage civil society and minorities on the question of how to commemorate the dead.

(para 64) The High Commissioner recommends the Human Rights Council continue and build on its engagement in Sri Lanka. She reaffirms her call for an independent international investigation. Outstanding requests to visit Sri Lanka by senior UN officials (special rapporteurs and special procedures mandate holders) para 8: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. on minority issues freedom of peaceful assembly freedom of expression extrajudicial executions enforced or involuntary disappearances human rights defenders independence of judges and lawyers discrimination against women