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TNA stands by Pillay's report

2014 Feb 26

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka contains a comprehensive and accurate depiction of the serious human rights issues facing Sri Lanka.

The TNA says Pillay’s Report has benefited from the High Commissioner’s visit to Sri Lanka, where she was able to observe first-hand the issues of concern to victims and survivors in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

“The High Commissioner has raised a number of serious concerns in her Report which also pertain to the entire country: the treatment of former combatants and detainees; attacks on religious minorities; the attack on dissent and the freedom of expression; the government’s dismal record in implementing LLRC recommendations; and the government’s disinterest in making progress on accountability. The TNA is particularly concerned over the impact of the high levels of militarization on the security of women in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. There are mounting and credible reports of systematic patterns of sexual harassment and violence in highly militarized areas, and we ask that the Human Rights Council take cognizance of this reality in its deliberations on Sri Lanka,” the TNA said in a statement.

The TNA said it also takes serious note of the High Commissioner’s observations on the impermissibility of amnesty provisions in respect of international crimes and gross violations of human rights. The TNA observed that the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka made similar observations, and that the Government of Sri Lanka’s own written submissions to the Panel of Experts viewed amnesty provisions as inappropriate for the reason that they “intrinsically encourage a culture of impunity”.

The TNA has and continues to articulate victims’ demands for truth, justice, just resolution of land issues reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence; the undesirability of blanket amnesty provisions; and the need to give effect to the duty to prosecute international crimes and gross human rights abuses.

The TNA also unequivocally supports the High Commissioner’s recommendation that the Human Rights Council establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws, in addition to monitoring any domestic processes for accountability initiated by the Government of Sri Lanka.

“We believe that such a mechanism is necessary in the light of the government’s unwillingness to take steps towards accountability. We also note that the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which we have consistently opposed, vests in the President virtually exclusive powers over key public appointments. Thus the deep politicization of civil institutions, together with the widely acknowledged erosion of judicial independence, seriously undermines any prospects of a credible domestic process for accountability,” the TNA said.

The TNA says it remains committed to leading the Tamil people through a painful process of introspection, and encourages the government to use the opportunity of an international inquiry to break with the past and meaningfully pursue reconciliation.

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