Addressing the UN Human Rights Council on 28 February 2020, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) urged renewed international action to ensure justice and accountability for crimes under international law in Sri Lanka.
The statement, delivered during a discussion of updates and reports from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, read as follows:
“The ICJ deeply regrets the Sri Lankan Government’s withdrawal of support for the process under resolutions 30/1 and 40/1. ICJ supports the joint statement read by IMADR.
The Sri Lankan legal system and judicial institutions have for decades demonstrated a chronic inability to address systemic and entrenched impunity for crimes under international law perpetrated by the military and security forces. The new President’s promises to protect the military from accountability, and senior command appointments of individuals credibly accused of crimes under international law, only deepen the concern.
As the High Commissioner notes, the failure to deal comprehensively with impunity and to reform institutions may lead to more human rights violations.
The Tamil population have consistently and rightly rejected any reconciliation process that ignores justice and accountability, and it is obvious that no justice or accountability process that is left to domestic Sri Lankan institutions alone can be credible. The compromise national-international “hybrid” judicial accountability mechanism foreseen by resolution 30/1 already fell far short of what the situation actually warrants.
If the Government seeks now to abandon even that compromise, purely international processes, whether before the ICC or through creation of another international accountability mechanism by the Council, and the exercise of universal jurisdiction by other States, are the only remaining options for securing the justice required by international law and indispensable to any credible reconciliation process for Sri Lanka.” (ICJ)