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NGOs call for internationalised accountability process and monitoring of ongoing violations against victim Tamil community in Sri Lanka

Non-Governmental Organisations stressed the importance of ongoing monitoring in Sri Lanka, an internationalised judicial process for accountability, ending ongoing violations against the majority victim Tamil community and seeking a lasting political solution during the general debate on the OISL report into Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Addressing member states of the UNHRC during the debate, United Nations Watch condemning the ongoing “oppression of the Tamils” in Sri Lanka, called on the new government to “end impunity” and deliver a credible process for reconciliation and accountability.

Commenting on the OISL report the organisation said,

“We condemn the oppression of the Tamils and other minority groups. The inquiry has documented numerous cases of targeted killings of politicians, where the victims are often those of Tamil descent. Enforced disappearances continue unabated, with the most vulnerable group being Tamil males in government controlled areas.”

Minority Rights Group International, highlighting a “broader systemic pattern of gender-based violence against Tamil women,” stressed that “the situation remains grave for minority women.”

“Amidst pervasive military presence in the North and East, many face chronic insecurity, protracted displacement, land grabbing and the threat of sexual violence,” added the organisation.

Adding that Tamils and other marginalised groups remained to be side-lined MRG added,

“Without a clear framework of protection or inclusion in place for minority women and other marginalised groups, the prospects of reconciliation and a lasting peace will remain elusive.”

MRG called on Sir Lanka to establish a hybrid court to deal with findings with strong international involvement and unfettered access to all UN procedures.

Forum Asia, endorsing the findings and recommendations of the OISL, highlighted that “oppressive structures, policies and practices continue in Sri Lanka.”

Adding that harassment, intimidation, torture and sexual violence against war victims “continue in the North and East alongside military occupation of civilian land.”

All accountability process must include a “majority of international judges, lawyers and investigators, appointed independently,” said Forum Asia adding it was imperative that “war crimes, crime against humanity and genocide are criminalised domestically with retrospective affect.”

International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), urged Sri Lanka’s political leaders to respect pledges given to victims for justice and guaranteed of non-recurrence, and called on Sri Lanka to implement all recommendations effectively and in a meaningful manner.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), noting the decades long erosion of Sri Lanka’s judicial process, stressed the importance of implementing the OISL recommendations for a hybrid court and “prosecutor’s offices that fully integrates international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators.”

The ICJ further stressed the need for continued monitoring of implementation of the OISL recommendations “through an OHCHR country office and the Council.”

HRW calls for OHCHR presence in Sri Lanka to monitor implementation of OISL recommendations (30 Sep 2015)
Liberation noting the lack of trust that Tamils had  in “leaving the implementation of the High Commissioner’s Report to the Government of Sri Lanka and its own local mechanisms” called on the UN to act as a “guarantor” for the future process of accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

Liberation further noted the further “escalation of army presence”  in the Tami North-East and highlighted the lack of dialogue on resolving “ the long standing ethnic conflict among the communities.

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, stressing a lack of “basic trust of the predominantly Tamil war-affected population,” warned, “without such trust, any domestic accountability mechanism would lack credibility and meaning.”

LLRW called on the human rights council to adopt a resolution that “ explicitly adopts the recommendations of the High Commissioner, guarantees strict timelines for progress to be made and ensures that Sri Lanka remains on the international agenda.”

The organisation added that,

“An accountability process must have significant international involvement, including at minimum having a majority of judges, prosecutors and investigators appointed from outside Sri Lanka.. and having an independent and internationally overseen wetness victim protection scheme.”

Speaking through the League For Disabilities, Northern Provincial Councillor MK Shivajalingam, expressing regret that the UNHRC draft resolution did not explicitly call for full implementations of the OISL report, called on the council to consider confidence building measures to gain the trust of the victim Tamil community in Sri Lanka.

Mr Shivajalingam called on the OHCHR to “open up offices in the North-East of Sri Lanka where a majority of the victims have access, press Sri Lanka to end the military occupation of the North-East and create the normal condition for the Tamil people, so they will be able to participate in a judicial process without fear, ensure protection of witnesses, call on Sri Lanka to accept a Un mediated process towards finding a permanent political solution” and “monitor progress in Sri Lanka, and refer the issue to a full international mechanism under the UN if no progress is made.”

Speaking through the Alliance Creative Community Project, leader of the Tamil National People’s Front and civil society organisation TAICAM, G Ponnambalam, expressed concern that the draft resolution to be table don Sri Lanka “does not seriously address the significant shortcomings detailed in the OISL report,” and reiterated “the firm conviction of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, who comprise the vast majority of the victims, that accountability and justice can only be truly delivered through an international criminal justice process.”

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