US-based advocacy group PEARL has documented Sri Lanka’s failure to fulfil its transitional justice commitments and the international community’s complacency towards it, in the organisation’s new report “Delayed or Denied? Sri Lanka’s Failing Transitional Justice Process”.
Sri Lankan officials have publicly repudiated their promises on at least 30 occasions in the last year alone, PEARL said in a press release on Monday.
Nevertheless, members of the international community continue to treat Sri Lanka as a good faith actor, ignoring glaring red flags that it is unwilling to pursue a meaningful accountability process, the organisation said.
The report highlighted the numerous occasions that the current government "consistently reassured its military and Sinhalese voters that it would not pursue accountability for wartime violations".
"Even as Sri Lanka convinced members of the international community of its intention to meet its obligations prescribed by Resolution 30/1, officials were busy telling their domestic audiences that the country’s “war heroes” would never stand trial," the report added.
Meanwhile the international community has been "tempering its praise of Sri Lanka while simultaneously strengthening bilateral relations," said the report.
"The leniency shown by members of the international community does not just communicate to the Sri Lankan government that it can get away with flouting its obligations," it adds. "It also tells the victim-survivor community that their suffering and struggle for accountability is increasingly unimportant."
PEARL’s interviews with the victim-survivor community show that they are growing frustrated with the international community’s lenience towards Sri Lanka’s endless delays and broken promises and are increasingly willing to mobilize in defense of their rights.
“It is clear that Sri Lanka needs international pressure to implement a comprehensive transitional justice process,” said PEARL’s Legal Researcher Anjali Manivannan.
“But members of the international community keep taking the Sri Lankan government at its word, despite years of back-and-forth dialogue and broken promises. The failure of states to continue calling for a hybrid court to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes has betrayed Tamil victims and survivors whose only hope lies with the international community. The international community must increase—not decrease—pressure on Sri Lanka in order to preserve peace on the island.”