Sri Lanka’s transitional justice: Genuine move or red herring?

Noting the absence of commitment to demilitarisation of the North-East JS Tissainayagam questioned the Sri Lankan government’s commitment to an all-inclusive transitional justice process that had the buy in of the victims. Writing in the Asian correspondent Mr Tissainayagam said, “Although the Government consulting victims on some aspects of transitional justice mechanisms appears democratic and inclusive, the way Colombo is setting about it gives little confidence that it is prepared to incorporate victims’ needs and wishes if they go contrary to its own target and objectives. Nor is the...

‘US stand on Sri Lanka perverts international justice’ – J. S. Tissainayagam

The United States’ reported backing for a domestic process of accountability with ‘international technical assistance’ perverts international justice said exiled Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam on Tuesday. Writing in the Asian Correspondent, Mr Tissainayagam said: “the U.S. and the international community are misguided in believing that the two elections and a national government have brought about enduring change that merits Washington to collaborate with Colombo on the forthcoming resolution at the UNHRC. This is because despite regime change there is little evidence that the new government has either the capacity or the political will to domestically investigate, try and punish perpetrators of international crimes.” He went on detail the inadequacy in “important institutions of state that will be vital in determining if the process of accountability effectively delivers justice to the victims”. “Even as he campaigned for the presidency, Sirisena, who has admitted being acting minister of defence “when most of the LTTE leaders were killed,” was insistent that Rajapakse and the military leaders implicated in mass atrocities against Tamils would not be brought before an international tribunal for war crimes,” said Mr Tissainayagam, adding, “Installed in power, the Sirisena government intervened directly to protect the status of those in the military implicated in war crimes”. The journalist also stated that Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe “has been no less emphatic in expressing similar reservations on an international investigation”.

Tamil nation must ensure TNA holds true to elected mandate - JS Tissainayagam

It is up to the Tamil public, civil society and diaspora to ensure that the Tamil National Alliance remains true to the mandate given by the voters, said exiled Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam on Friday. Writing in the Asian Correspondent Mr Tissainayagam noted Tamil discontent at ambiguous aspects of the Tamil National Alliance’s manifesto, and called on, “Tamil voters, Tamil civil society – especially organisations such as the Tamil Civil Society Forum – and the Tamil diaspora to keep the TNA accountable and not deviate from its policy statements declared before elections.”

Justice in Sri Lanka: With just 273 political prisoners in custody, how many have disappeared?

The only to way see justice in Sri Lanka is through international courts, said exiled journalist JS Tissainayagam writing in the Asian Correspondent on Wednesday. Commenting on Sri Lanka’s assertion that only 300 prisoners were in the new government’s custody, Mr Tissainayagam said, “The recent revelation that only 300 prisoners remain in Government custody only confirms that the crimes committed by the government are even more heinous than previously imagined. As such, no Sri Lanka government is going to facilitate the legal, administrative need to meet ‘international standards.’ The only way is for international justice to be dispensed by international courts.”

Will Sri Lanka's new president be held to international standards of justice?

In view of the Sri Lanka's new president's closeness to the last stages of the armed conflict, serving as acting defence minister for the final two weeks, the exiled journalist, J S Tissainayagam, stressed the need for the international community to ensure he too is held to international standards of justice. "As details of Sirisena’s possible connection to war crimes emerge, what is the international community – especially the Western democracies that are pushing for an international investigation – going to do?," asked Mr Tissainayagam, writing in the Asian Correspondent.

'Hold the Champagne in Sri Lanka'

The conclusion of Sri Lanka's presidential and appointment of Maithripala Sirisena as president of the country is not yet a cause for celebration, said journalist J.S. Tissainayagam, stating that the real challenges for Sri Lanka are only just beginning. Writing in Foreign Policy , the award winning journalist said that whilst Sirisena has pledged to implement constitutional reforms, this will do little to assuage Tamil and Muslim concerns. Tissainayagam says, “Neither presidential nor parliamentary forms of government — invariably dominated by the Sinhalese, who make up roughly 74 percent of the country’s 21 million people — is satisfactory to the Tamils and Muslims. Instead, they demand greater autonomy in the north and the east. But Sirisena’s election manifesto is completely silent on the matter.”

Sri Lanka's electoral dysfunction

All contesting parties in the presidential polls “have effectively shut Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Muslim minorities out of the upcoming election” said JS Tissainayagam on Wednesday. Writing in Foreign Policy , award winning journalist, JS Tissainayagam warned that the international community should demand that a dialogue with the Tamils and Muslims be pursued by whoever wins the Sri Lankan presidential elections. Highlighting that both the ruling party and common opposition had rejected international justice mechanisms, Tissainayagam added, “International justice aside, Sirisena and the joint opposition naively believe that Sri Lanka can achieve peace and political stability without satisfying the political aspirations of the Tamils and the Muslims.”

'Sri Lanka’s Scapegoat for its Own Terror'

Sri Lanka is using the mask of ‘counterterrorism’ to hide its own terror, whilst increasingly becoming a hub for international crime, said award-winning exiled Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam in a piece for Foreign Policy . Tissainayagam, a former a Nieman Fellow at Harvard Univeristy, said that by continuing to paint itself as a victim of terrorism, Sri Lanka “absolves itself of its own inaction if not outright compliance with exporting terrorism”. Whilst Sri Lanka may continue to claim the alleged revival of the LTTE as a reason for receiving international assistance, Tissainayagam argues that meanwhile, with government and military involvement, the island has become a hub for international crime.

UN resolution the first step on rocky path to accountability

The resolution adopted in the UN Human Rights council is the first step in the rocky path towards accountability, writes the exiled Tamil journalist, J.S. Tissainayagam in the Asian Correspondent on Monday. Full text of his opinion reproduced below. The Sri Lanka resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Thursday establishes an international investigation mechanism to probe alleged war crimes of the past as well as monitor ongoing human rights violations in the country. While politicians worldwide spoke of the passing of the resolution in terms of victory and defeat, for those working for justice and accountability in the country it was a day of sober reflection on the work ahead. While the resolution partly fulfils the demand for justice and accountability, its weaknesses could also be a cause for serious setbacks.

Sri Lanka: Government rounds up activists as UN fudges on inquiry - Tissainayagam

Writing in the Asian Correspondent today on the heightened militarisation in the North-East, and the spate of recent arrests of activists, the Tamil journalist in exile J.S. Tissainayagam, warned that the international community's deletion of 'demilitarisation' from the draft UNHRC resolution text " signals to Colombo that there will be no serious opposition to it ruling northern Sri Lanka through the military ." See full article here . Extracts reproduced below: "As the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva was discussing the clauses of its resolution on Sri Lanka, the Colombo government used troops and special laws to arrest human rights defenders (HRDs) in the northern part of the country last week. It is ironic that while the Sri Lanka Government decided to beef-up militarisation in the former warzones and arrest activists, the UNHRC agreed to delete the word “demilitarisation” from its draft resolution."