The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, conducted an official mission to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (hereafter Sri Lanka) from 2 to 6 December 2013, at the invitation of the Government and pursuant to his mandate contained in resolution 23/8 of the Human Rights Council. The objective of the mission was to engage in a dialogue with the Government with a view to promoting durable solutions for the significant number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have been in need of such solutions since the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009.
Accordingly, the Special Rapporteur’s assessment identifies key modalities and conditions necessary to enable the implementation of durable solutions for IDPs in Sri Lanka in the context of development and reconstruction.
Although there have been impressive advances in rebuilding infrastructure destroyed during the conflict, there needs to be a linkage between rebuilding such infrastructure and the livelihoods of the significant number of IDPs. They are still living in protracted displacement, and many others have returned to, or have been relocated within, the Northern and Eastern Provinces and are still living in very precarious conditions. Concerted efforts are required to ensure that post-conflict reconstruction addresses durable solutions on a comprehensive basis for all IDPs, as well as those who have been relocated and those who have returned to their areas of origin.
Read the full report here (A/HRC/26/33/Add.4)
- Conclusions and recommendations
- The Special Rapporteur’s visit to Sri Lanka took place over four and a half years after the end of the armed conflict between the Government and the LTTE. Since the end of the armed conflict, the Government has made significant progress, together with national and international partners, to facilitate the return or relocation of some 760,000 IDPs. It is important to ensure that the tens of thousands for whom durable solutions have not yet been found do not stay in limbo but find solutions to their plight. The Special Rapporteur believes that significant efforts are required by the Government to find durable solutions, ensuring a voluntary and informed process, and invites both humanitarian and development partners to work together with national and local authorities to ensure that the livelihoods of IDPs, relocated persons and returnees are restored. The Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to invite international partners to assist in promoting the protection of IDPs and others in search of durable solutions. The Special Rapporteur also wishes to emphasize the need for reconciliation, justice, healing and in particular, the need to bring the perpetrators of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law to justice in order to ensure accountability for wrongs committed to IDPs during and after displacement.
- In the spirit of cooperation extended to him during his visit, the Special Rapporteur looks forward to continuing dialogue with the Government of Sri Lanka and offers the following conclusions and recommendations.
- Concerning an effective national response, the Special Rapporteur recommends that the Government:
- Implement the recommendations of the LLRC, particularly chapter 5 on human rights generally and with regard to IDPs, and chapter 6 on land issues, return and resettlement;
- Implement the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, particularly the goal of developing a broad-based national policy on internal displacement which takes into account all forms of displacement, conflict, natural disasters and economic development, drawing on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons;
- In collaboration with international partners, significantly revise the current draft Framework for Resettlement Policy to make it a comprehensive policy on internal displacement, including on durable solutions, in line with the recommendations of the LLRC, the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the comprehensive 2008 draft IDP bill, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons, with clear benchmarks for durable solutions to ensure a transparent process and reinforce credibility;
- Undertake a comprehensive needs assessment of all areas that have historically hosted IDPs, that is, the Northern, Eastern, North-Western and North-Central Provinces, and consider the needs of communities hosting IDPs, in partnership with local civil society organizations and international partners;
- Given that the conflict has ended, reassess the role of the military in maintaining national security, in compliance with international human rights law,and balance it with the right of IDPs to enjoy freedom of movement and choice of residence. based on necessity, as prescribed by law in the pursuit of national security as a legitimate aim, and proportionality or reasonable measures to ensure freedom of movement and choice of residence by IDPs;
- Provide IDPs with transparent information on the plans for the phased withdrawal of the military from certain areas, and provide adequate compensation and resettlement to those who may not return to their original lands;
- Resolve issues relating to land property by legislative measures with regard to competing claims over title, ownership, use and occupation;
- Protect single women headed households, and protect women in the north against sexual violence and enforced prostitution;
- Ensure that IDPs are not subject to attacks, harassment, intimidation, persecution or any other form of punitive action upon return to their home communities or settlement elsewhere in the country, and ensure that they can enjoy their freedom of movement;
- Ensure that IDPs, returnees and relocated persons enjoy equal and non-discriminatory access to education, health services, livelihoods, land, property rights and equality before the law;
- Establish modalities enabling IDPs, returnees and relocated persons to access their land in the former High Security Zones and to be provided with adequate information on their prospects of regaining access to their land so that they can assess their options and make informed choices;
- Ensure that the commission appointed to investigate reports of missing persons complies with recognized international standards, works in consultation with the families of missing persons, extends its coverage to including missing persons/disappearances since May 2009, and makes its finding and recommendations public;
- Invite the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to Sri Lanka pursuant to principles 16 and 17 of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement;
- Ensure that all human rights violations of a criminal nature committed against IDPs, returnees and relocated persons are subject to criminal investigation and that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice;
- Enable proper working conditions without intimidation for NGOs and civil society organizations working with IDPs and returnees in the north and the east;
- Address impunity of security personnel in relation to offences against civilians.
- The Special Rapporteur recommends that, with the support of international donors, international humanitarian and development actors:
- Support the Joint Needs Assessment and enable the Government to carry out a comprehensive profiling exercise of the numbers of IDPs, relocated persons and returnees, as well as a survey of intention of IDPs and their needs linked to livelihoods, housing, land and property;
- Ensure that development plans include programmes for durable solutions based on the specific needs of IDPs, relocated persons and returnees, using a rights-based approach and ensuring the participation of IDPs in decision-making, and also include IDPs in their general poverty alleviation and other relevant programmes and the monitoring thereof.