Tamil parties, civil society groups oppose domestic war crimes probe

Civil society organisations and trade unions have joined with Tamil political parties from North and East of Sri Lanka to protest against the UN rights body approving a proposal that gives the government an opportunity to lead a probe into war crimes committed during the final war.

On the eve of the UNHRC vote on a US Sri Lanka proposal that calls the setting up of a Sri Lankan judicial inquiry, forty organisations and four Tamil political parties have said that the UN investigation on Sri Lanka itself has advised against it. The groups include three constituent parties of the Tamil National Alliance.

“We urge you to reconsider the current draft of the resolution and to redraft it so that it truly serves the purpose of providing the basis for delivering accountability and justice in Sri Lanka,” say the signatories to the statement reproduced in full below.


We  release  this  statement  in  response  to  the  draft  resolution  titled  'Promoting Reconciliation,  Accountability  and  Human  Rights  in  Sri  Lanka' tabled  under  Item  2 and  scheduled  for  debate  and  adoption  on  the  30th  of  September  2015.

1. We  reiterate  the  firm  conviction  of  the  victims  of  the  ethnic  conflict  in  Sri Lanka,  a  majority  of  whom  are  Tamils,  that  accountability  and  justice  can only  be  truly  delivered  through  an  international  criminal  justice  process.

2. We  however  in  deference  to  the  Report  of  the  Office  of  the  UN  High Commissioner  for  Human  Rights'  Inquiry  on  Sri  Lanka  (the  OISL report) were  willing  to  consider  the  possibility  of  achieving  justice  and accountability  through  a  credible  hybrid  mechanism  in  the  event  of the mechanism  being  led  and  managed  by  its  international  component  under  the aegis  of  the  UN.

3. We  regret  that  Operative  Paragraphs  4  and  6  of  the  draft  resolution  do  not adequately  provide  for  the  setting  up  of  such  a credible hybrid  mechanism. The  paragraphs  when  read  together  only  seek  to  provide  the  appearance  of credibility  to  a  domestic  process through  the  appointment  of  'commonwealth and  other  foreign  judges,  defence  lawyers,  and  authorized  prosecutors  and investigators'.  The  Sri Lankan  Government  appointing  foreign  judges  to  its own  judicial  mechanism  will  not  address  the  structural  factors  that  inhibit the  domestic structures  in  Sri  Lanka,  reasons  for  which  are  detailed  in  the OISL  report.  A  mechanism,  which  is  by  and  large  managed  and  controlled  by the  Sri  Lankan  state,  will  not  in  our  opinion  be  deemed  credible  by  the victims  in  Sri  Lanka. 

4. We  also  deeply  regret  that  references  to  demilitarization  of  the  North-East and  an  increased  role  for  the  OHCHR  which  were  included  in the  initial  draft of  the  resolution  have  been  removed  from  the  current  draft  tabled  before  the UNHRC.  The  current  draft  resolution  in Operative  Paragraph  3  provides  for  a 'national'  victims  consultation  process  thereby  in  effect  excluding  numerous Tamil  victims  who  live outside  of  Sri  Lanka  in  fear  of  persecution.  The testimonies  of  these  victims  from  the  diaspora  were  key  to  the  OISL  inquiry. We  note  with deep  regret  that  in  the  interest  of  arriving  at  a  consensus resolution  with  Sri  Lanka  that  many  key  components  of  the  initial  draft  have been  omitted. 

5. We  urge  you  to  reconsider  the  current  draft  of  the  resolution  and  to  redraft  it so  that  it  truly  serves  the  purpose  of  providing  the  basis for  delivering accountability  and  justice  in  Sri  Lanka.

Political  Parties

1. Eelam  People’s  Revolutionary  Liberation  Front  (EPRLF)
2. Democratic  People’s  Liberation  Front  (PLOTE)
3. Tamil  Eelam  Liberation  Organisation  (TELO)
4. Tamil  National  People’s  Front  (TNPF)

Civil  Society  Organisations  &  Trade  Unions

1. Tamil  Action  Committee  for  an  International  Accountability  Mechanism
2. Tamil  Civil  Society  Forum  (TCSF)
3. Centre  for  Human  Rights  and  Development  (CHRD)
4. Home  for  Human  Rights  (HHR)
5. The  Social  Architects  (TSA)
6. Ceylon  Teachers  Union  
7. Vavuniya  Citizens  Committee
8. Mannar  Citizens  Committee
9. Council  of  Non  Governmental  Organisations,  Jaffna
10. Tamil  Lawyers  Forum  
11. North  East  Coordinating  Committee  of  the  Relatives  of  the  Forcibly
12. Jaffna  University  Teachers  Association  
13. Jaffna  University  Employees  Union
14. Foundation  of  Changers  -­‐  Batticaloa
15. East  Civil  society  Activist  Alliance  –  Batticaloa
16. Commission  for  Justice  and  Peace  of  the  Catholic  Diocese  of  Jaffna  
17. Batticaloa  Social  Workers  Network
18. Paduvaankarai  People’s  Alliance
19. Mannar  Economic  and  Social  Development  Organization  
20. Hindu  Development  Society  Karaithivu  –  Amparai
21. Tamilar  Valvurimai  Maiyam
22. Valikamam  North  Development  Board,  Jaffna.  
23.  Batticaloa  District  Civil  Society
24. Tamil  Civil  Society  –  Trincomalee  (TCST)
25. Chamber  of  Commerce  and  Insustries  –  Jaffna
26. Ceylon  Tamil  Teachers  Association
27.  Jaffna  District  Fishermen’s  Cooperative  Society  Unions  Federation
28. Jaffna  Economists  Association
29. Rural  Labourers  Society  –  Jaffna  District
30. Northern  Province  Fisher  People’s  Unity
31. Jaffna  District  Fisheries  Solidarity  Movement
32. Valikamam  South  West  Fisheries  Co-­‐operative  Societies  Federation  
33. Trincomalee  Tamils  Development  Federation
34. Trincomalee  Women  Headed  Families  Association
35. Batticaloa  Sri  Mamangeswarar  Thrift  Co-­‐operative  Society
36. Batticaloa  District  Pensioners  Association
37. Batticaloa  Municipal  Tax  Payers  Association
38. Batticaloa  Maamangam  Development  Society
39. Batticaloa  SriMamangeswarar  Hindu  association
40. Batticaloa  SriMamangeswarar  Women’s  Association