A Roadmap for Implementing Sri Lanka’s Transitional Justice Commitments
The South Asian Centre for Legal Studies (SACLS) held a panel discussion to present their recommendations for a roadmap for implementation of HRC Resolution 30/1, adopted on October 1, 2015. Panelists included Attorney-at-Law A.M. Faaiz, Bhavani Fonseka Senior Researcher and attorney from the Centre for Policy Alternatives and TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.
SACLS’s report, “From Words to Action: A Roadmap for Implementing Sri Lanka’s Transitional Justice Commitments“, comes at a time of political and domestic tensions surrounding the role of international participation in the investigation of human rights abuses during the conflict between the LTTE and the Government forces.
HRC Resolution 30/1 affirms “the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators.”
“The participation of international players is absolutely essential for any sense of credibility,” says Sumanthiran. As for investigations into alleged human rights abuses, Sumanthiran says “There will be a temptation not to dig too deep because the wound is not completely healed… If not, an amputation might be necessary.”
Another major element of the report is the establishment of an Office of Missing Persons, but questions remain as to the temporal mandate of such an office.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has been registering disappearances for the past two decades, documented 16,064 missing persons in its 2014 Annual Report.
A movement is currently underway to issue missing person certificates. Seen widely as another step toward reconciliation, the announcement of the certificate initiative was also met with hostility from opposition forces who are increasingly suspicious of foreign influence. The certificates could serve as one mechanism for victims to receive reparations from the government, as well as for other practical purposes including land deeds and pension funds.
The report also calls for the establishment of an Office Of Reparations in order to “build trust and acknowledge the dignity of victims.”