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‘Inclusion of exiled victims will be litmus test for Sri Lanka’ – Frances Harrison

The inclusion of exiled victims and witnesses in Sri Lanka’s consultation for an accountability mechanism will be a litmus test of its credibility, writes former BBC correspondent Frances Harrison.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Ms Harrison noted that “the extent of organised sexual violence and torture by the Sri Lankan security forces in the post-war period and right up to the present day and the chilling way every medical facility was deliberately attacked is now a matter of record,” with the release of the OISL report.

“The fact the Sri Lankan security services this week went to question the only Tamil activist who spoke in public in Geneva appears to be an attempt to embarrass the government,” she added. “This sort of harassment causes disproportionate bad feeling and suspicion, especially when the target is a highly respected Catholic priest who works tirelessly with the families of the Disappeared.”

The first test for Sri Lanka “will be the national consultation process” she said, adding “Already some north-eastern human rights activists complain their colleagues in the south have just used the accountability issue to effect regime change and now they've got it they're no longer interested in justice for Tamils”.

Stating that “the vast majority of those who testified to the UN investigation were recent exiles and they did so at considerable cost to themselves, recounting deeply traumatic experiences in the hope they could advance justice,” Ms Harrison said the inclusion of exiled victims and witnesses was “essential”.

“Their inclusion in the national consultation will be a litmus test of its credibility.”
See the full piece here.