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Solutions Needed in Sri Lanka - US Reps. Davis and Johnson

Writing in the Roll Call, US Reps. Danny Davis and Bill Johnson, criticised the lack of progress on implementing "a viable plan for lasting peace and reconciliation".

See here for full op-ed, extract published below:

"More than four years after Sri Lanka’s ethnic-fueled internal conflict came to an end after 26 years, the country has yet to implement a viable plan for lasting peace and reconciliation.

In March, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a U.S.-led resolution calling for the “establishment of a truth-seeking mechanism as an integral part of a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to transnational justice” in Sri Lanka.

The resolution came in response to continued post-conflict occurrences of gender-, ethnic-, political- and religious-based violence, as well as the government’s reluctance to investigate and hold perpetrators accountable for alleged serious violations of international law. Those violations occurred during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s conflict, which left tens of thousands of Tamil civilians dead.

The Human Rights Council’s resolution fell on deaf ears. When Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, visited the island in August to observe the country’s progress for herself, she received numerous reports of ongoing human rights violations and land grabs by the military, noting afterward that Sri Lanka appeared to be heading in “an increasingly authoritarian direction.”

Sri Lanka may have been the first democracy in South Asia, but these issues are hardly characteristic of one.

To secure lasting peace and stability, Sri Lanka needs a durable and equitable political system that ensures all citizens are fairly represented and afforded equal rights and protections.

Elections were held in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province last month for the first time ever, but there were numerous reports of violence and intimidation at the polls, particularly against ethnic-Tamil candidates and supporters. Furthermore, since the election the Supreme Court has diminished what little authority these provincial councils currently hold by taking away their land and police powers, diluting the 13th Amendment. Currently, executive authority is held by an ex-military governor and the president, along with his two brothers, who already control more than 70 percent of the nation’s finances."