Sri Lanka's "Lessons Learnt" Commission to start sittings

[TamilNet, Friday, 06 August 2010, 12:21 GMT]
Sri Lanka's 8-member Commission, with a mandate drafted to carefully avoid inquiry into alleged war-crimes committed by protagonists or to investigate into rights violations, is to start sittings from next Wednesday, Sri Lanka Government's news portal announced. For Sri Lanka, the sittings assumes importance after Sri Lanka's failed attempt to prevent functioning of the United Nations advisory committee, and the refusal by Non-Aligned Member (NAM) nations to endorse Sri Lanka's letter to UN objecting to the UN panel.

United Nation's Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Executions, Philip Alston, earlier dismissed Sri Lanka's local commission as ineffective without a mandate to probe war crimes, questioned the independence of the same commission pointing to the past dismal performance of its Chairman, Chitta Ranjan de Silva, and cautioned that "detailed and deeply troubling allegations won’t magically disappear."

Alston added, "the very idea that any Sri Lankan could acknowledge that war crimes might have been committed, despite the fact that they have been reported by a wide range of other sources, is treated as a hanging offence," means that this "approach does not bode well for the prospect of a genuine national inquiry into war crimes any time soon."

Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch earlier said, "[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."

Sri Lanka's commission is to report on the following, according to Sri Lanka Government's website:
  1. The facts and circumstances which led to the failure of the cease-fire agreement operationalized on 21st February, 2002 and the sequence of events that followed thereafter up to the 19th of May, 2009.
  2. Whether any person, group or institution directly or indirectly bear responsibility in this regard;
  3. The lessons we would learn from those events and their attendant concerns, in order to ensure that there will be no recurrence;
  4. The methodology whereby restitution to any person affected by those events or their dependents or their heirs, can be affected;
  5. The institutional, administrative and legislative measures which need to be taken in order to prevent any recurrence of such concerns in the future, and to promote further national unity and reconciliation among all communities, and to make any such other recommendations with reference to any of the matters that have been inquired into under the terms of this Warrant.
Sri Lanka's Minister Wimalawanse's siege of the Colombo UN compound and the fiasco surrounding the aborted fast campaign were also part of Colombo's attempt to derail UN advisory panel.


Chronology:


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12.07.10   HRW welcomes Ban’s resolve, urges war crimes roadmap
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