SUARAM is seeking all the Ngo’s to support the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council’s Resolution to promote reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka over its alleged war crimes and human rights violations committed during its recent military conflict.
We come to know that the Malaysian government in support of Sri Lanka in denying its alleged war crimes. Malaysian support to Sri Lanka or abstaining vote for the resolution will nearly prove our support of the brutal war crime which took place in 2009.
Therefore SUARAM is seeking urgent endorsement for the statement below. Please send your endorsement to [email protected] by 20 March before 12 noon.
This joint memorandum by the CSO will be handover to the UN office in Malaysia in 21 March, 12 noon together with other concern organisations in Malaysia. We hope we could mobilise to show our support.
Joint Statement: 15 March 2012
CSO’s calls on the Malaysian Government to support UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka
We the undersigned organisations, express our support for the upcoming United Nations Human Rights Council’s Resolution to promote reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka over its alleged war crimes and human rights violations committed during its recent military conflict.
The Resolution during the 19th Session of the Council calls upon Sri Lanka to fully investigate the person responsible for the deaths of thousands of Tamil civilians and to establish genuine reconciliation process. The resolution that will be tabled during the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council beginning from 12 March 2012 is seen as a major step forward in providing substantive reconciliation in the ethnically divided post conflict nation that witnessed nearly 40,000 civilians including ethnic Tamil and Muslims killed and thousands more forcibly displaced.
We view that the current reconciliation process is of serious concern as the proposed postwar reconciliation falls short of a full accountability and is shrouded with impunity. The proposed resolution is seen as a follow up from the findings of a UN-appointed panel in 2011 and as a critical response to the Special Report submitted by Sri Lanka’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission” (LLRC) that was presented to the Sri Lankan parliament on 16 December 2011.
The UN Panel in its findings contradicts many of Sri Lanka’s public assertions made in the LLRC report about the conduct of its troops and supports the allegations that the Sri Lankan military deliberately shelled civilians caught in the war zone. The LLRC report had maintained that the armed forces had not acted inappropriately and also failed to account for the serious allegations of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances and further failed to make credible recommendations on governance, land issues and the need for a long term political solution. The LLRC report reflects the views of the Government of Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka takes an unpersuasive, untenable position in campaigning against endorsement of recommendations of its own report.
Amnesty International in September 2011 stated that the LLRC commission’s mandate fell far short of international standards for such inquiries and that it had “failed to appropriately investigate credible allegations of systematic violations by both sides to the conflict”. It says that these crimes include illegal killings and enforced disappearances, widespread shelling of civilian targets such as hospitals and the use of civilians as human shields. Amnesty International also stated that the Sri Lankan government has, for almost two years, used the LLRC as its trump card in lobbying against an independent international investigation.
The LLRC report and commission was also criticized by various international human rights bodies including International Crisis Center and Human Rights Watch.
We are of the position that even though the LLRC process has recognized certain critical aspects of the conflict, it is lacking in key fundamental recommendations and findings to hold the human rights perpetrators accountable as a precursor to the reconciliation process.
We believe that the concerns raised have significant impact on the process of reconciliation and views that the allegations if left unaddressed in a credible and objective manner will create a climate of impunity and defeat the reconciliation process. The Resolution shall provide for a credible solution in establishing accountability on the various human rights violations reported and to provide for a real and workable reconciliation.
We also believe that the UNHRC Resolution will provide for an inclusive process with the participation of the international community and guided by the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ensure the government’s obligations under international law.
We calls on the Malaysian government as a member of the UN Human Rights Council to support the Resolution and assist in the reconciliation process of Sri Lanka and affirm its commitment to human rights and humanitarian improvement that Malaysia have demonstrated in response to the recent conflicts in Bosnia and Palestine.
In September 2010, a three-member panel was set up following the Joint Statement made by UN Secretary–Genral Ban Ki Moon and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, after the Secretary-General Ban visited Sri Lanka shortly after the end of the conflict in May 2009.
The panel consisted of Mr. Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Ms. Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) and Prof. Steven Ratner (USA).
The panel found “credible allegations” that the Sri Lankan military/government killed civilians through widespread shelling; shelled hospitals and humanitarian objects; denied humanitarian assistance; violated the human rights of civilians and Tamil Tiger combatants; and violated the human rights of non- combatants outside the conflict zone such as the media representatives.
The Panel calls on the Sri Lankan Government immediately to “commence genuine investigations into these and other alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both sides involved in the armed conflict. The report also recommends that the Secretary General “immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism.
Sri Lanka’s government, which refused to cooperate with the panel, has criticized the Report’s findings as fundamentally flawed and based on unverified claims.
On March 7, 2012, a draft resolution was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council Session. The 3 point resolution calls for the following
1. The Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations in the LLRC report and take all necessary additional steps to fulfill its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans,
2. The Government of Sri Lanka to present a comprehensive action plan as expeditiously as possible detailing the steps the Government has taken and will take to implement the LLRC recommendations and also to address alleged violations of international law,
3. Encourages the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant special procedures to provide, and the Government of Sri Lanka to accept, advice and technical assistance on implementing those steps and requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a report to the Council on the provision of such assistance at its twenty-second session.