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US welcomes Sri Lanka's dud commission

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 23:07 GMT]
While Sri Lanka's committee probing war crimes acknowledged that "it does not have the legal power to investigate alleged rights abuses during the final stages" of Sri Lanka's conflict, US's UN Ambassador Susan Rice commended Rajapakse for appointing the commission, and acknowledging that "accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law is a crucial pillar of national reconciliation and the rule of law." Reacting on the committee's lack of judicial power, Professor Francis Boyle commented that "this should satisfy the requirement of complementarity necessary for Ban-ki Moon to open his war crimes investigation. There is now NO excuse left for inaction by Ban-ki Moon. He must move forward and immediately establish that War Crimes Investigation Committee."

Statement by US Ambassador Susan E. Rice on Sri Lanka's Announcement of a Commission on Lessons Learned and Reconciliation May 10, 2010.
    The U.S. Government welcomes President Rajapaksa’s announcement of his intention to establish a Commission on Lessons Learned and Reconciliation to examine key aspects of the recently ended conflict in Sri Lanka and his acknowledgment in doing so that accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law is a crucial pillar of national reconciliation and the rule of law.

    Experience in other countries has shown that commissions of inquiry can play a valuable role in advancing accountability when they are appropriately constituted and enjoy broad public support. Particularly important in this regard, broad experience has shown that to be effective in advancing accountability and reconciliation, commission members should be and be perceived as independent, impartial and competent; their mandate should enable them fully to investigate serious allegations of violations and to make public recommendations; commission members and potential witnesses must enjoy adequate and effective protection; the commission must receive adequate resources to carry out its mandate; and the Government should undertake to give serious consideration to its recommendations.

    We hope the commission will also reflect the desires and requests of the citizens of Sri Lanka, who were the primary victims of the conflict. Being responsive to their needs will be an important measure of the commission’s success. In light of these general principles, we would welcome the Sri Lankan Government's commitment to give the Commission on Lessons Learned and Reconciliation a mandate to probe violations of international standards during the final stages of the conflict and to identify those responsible and, we would expect, to make appropriate public recommendations based on its findings.
"It [Sri Lanka's own commission] will be a sham," a senior UN official told Inner City Press, and added, "Susan Rice did a very good thing," referring to US Ambassador Rice's statement.

"She welcomed it but listed expectations which they [Colombo] will never meet," the UN official told ICP.

Commenting on laws-of-war commission, Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch said, on Saturday, "[e]very time the international community raises the issue of accountability, Sri Lanka establishes a commission that takes a long time to achieve nothing. Ban should put an end to this game of smoke and mirrors and begin a process that would ensure justice for all the victims of Sri Lanka's war," adding, "Secretary-General Ban should not let Sri Lanka bully and manipulate him into abandoning justice for Sri Lanka's war victims," Adams said. "It is time for him to demonstrate that he is squarely on the side of the victims of Sri Lanka's long war."

In November 2006, Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) set up a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate and inquire into serious violations of Human Rights, and the investigations to be monitored by a International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP).

The IIGEP terminated its mission in March 2008 reasoning that the proceedings of the (CoI) have not been transparent and have not satisfied basic international norms and standards, and blamed the Government of Sri Lanka for "absence of will" in the present Inquiry to "investigate cases with vigour, where the conduct of its own forces has been called into question."


Chronology:


Related Articles:
14.04.08   IIGEP: Colombo lacks political will to investigate Human Rig..


External Links:
Reuters: Sri Lanka war crimes probe says lacks legal powers
ICP: On War Crimes Experts, UN Waits for "Sham"Sri Lankan Panel, Hiding Behind Rice

 

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