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Sri Lanka: Looking for a deal, not truth and justice – Frances Harrison

Deep rooted reform in Sri Lanka is not on the government’s agenda writes Frances Harrison, in a piece for Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka.

The author of Still Counting the Dead and former BBC correspondent noted that for Sri Lanka, “it’s getting impossible to paper over embarrassing public differences between the country’s President and its Prime Minister on the issue of war crimes”.

“The most immediate crisis is over interviews the President gave to the BBC and Al Jazeera in which he rolled back on the country’s commitments in Geneva regarding international involvement in a special court yet to be set up,” she said. “Tamil victims don’t have faith in a process that’s purely domestic - it’s not a question of ability and professionalism - but one of trust, given many of the alleged war criminals are still in positions of power.”

“Worse still, the President now says there were no war crimes, perhaps just a few human rights violations by the odd rotten apple in the military,” she added. “No matter that a UN investigation has been very clear the violations were systematic and widespread and could result in convictions for war crimes and crimes against humanity when tested in a court. “But perhaps not in the court currently envisaged for Sri Lanka.”
Ms Harrison went on to note that “the best people in the new Government seem to be looking for a compromise between the victims and the perpetrators, without really knowing what that looks like.”

"They are not seeking truth or justice. They are seeking a deal. Deep rooted reform - that would benefit Sinhalese as well as Tamils - is not on the agenda.”

See her full piece here.