The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) welcomes the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (“OHCHR”). The long awaited report, which was the result of an independent and credible investigation, finally acknowledges that grave human rights violations committed in Sri Lanka amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is important that we thank and pay tribute to the witnesses who made this report possible, taking incredible risks and re-living their harrowing experiences in order to provide evidence to the OHCHR.
The report makes findings that the Sri Lankan security forces as well as some paramilitary groups were responsible for disturbing violations of international law including unlawful killings, deprivation of liberty, sexual violence and enforced disappearances. The Sri Lankan government was also found to have denied humanitarian assistance and to have conducted indiscriminate shelling and attacks of civilians and hospitals in No Fire Zones, all of which, if tried in a court of law, would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The report also makes serious findings against the LTTE in respect of forced recruitment, child recruitment and control of movement.
Given that crimes against humanity can only be proven in a court of law, one of the most significant recommendations contained in the High Commissioner’s report is the establishment of a special hybrid court with significant international involvement integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators and the use of international law.
“The levels of mistrust in State authorities and institutions by broad segments of Sri Lankan society should not be underestimated,” said the High Commissioner. “A purely domestic court procedure will have no chance of overcoming widespread and justifiable suspicions fuelled by decades of violations, malpractice and broken promises.”
CTC reiterates that any domestic process is unacceptable and unfit to address the grievances of the Tamil people. We therefore call upon members of the Human Rights Council to pass a resolution that adopts the recommendations of the High Commissioner, guarantees strict timelines for progress to be made and ensures that Sri Lanka remains an item on the international agenda.
The Tamil community, both in Sri Lanka and abroad, have waited long enough for justice and accountability for the violations committed in Sri Lanka. We hope that this report marks the beginning of a process that will see them receive justice. (CTC)