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Government 'lacks political will' to pursue justice – Tamil Civil Society Forum

The government lacks political will in pursuing truth and justice and has done virtually nothing to consult victims in the design of an internal mechanism to establish these, the Tamil Civil Society Forum said today.

In a memo to the visiting Special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non‐Recurrence, Pablo de Greiff, the TCSF said the current regime’s characterisation of final phase of the armed conflict as a humanitarian operation, does not bode well with the government’s promise to conduct a credible inquiry.

“The UN Human Rights Commissioner in his address to the Council on the 5th of March 2015 insisted that GoSL should consult the victims in designing this internal mechanism. To date no such process has been initiated,” the memo said.

“We submit that it is more than clear from the above that the current Government has done very little or nothing to consult the victims in the design of its internal mechanism. The entirety of the process is being designed in secrecy. From what has been made public GoSL is attempting to show progress by rehashing the previous regime’s strategy of talking to the South Africans and using the services of a person whose credibility and standing are highly suspect.”

The TCSF also said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s statement, saying the objective of working with the international community on the establishment of a domestic mechanism was to “clear the name of the armed forces” is deeply problematic.

The civil society group further stated the need for prosecutions to be a part of any transitional justice programme in Sri Lanka and said a reform of state structures must be included in institutional reforms.

"Unless the unitary character of the Sri Lankan State imagined and constructed around a Sinhala Buddhist Nation-State is abandoned Tamils will not feel secure in this island. This necessarily means an internationally mediated process towards finding a sustainable and just political solution. Such reforms should also include the repeal of draconian legislations such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act."

See full memo here.

UN Special Rapporteur on truth and justice arrives in Sri Lanka (29 Mar 2015)