UN endorses Sri Lanka 'investigating' its own crimes

October 11, 2015
Tamils have long campaigned for an investigation into crimes against humanity committed by the Sri Lankan government.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has unanimously adopted a resolution called “Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka”.

This resolution, of which the United States was the main sponsor, welcomed a proposal by the Sri Lankan government to establish a “judicial mechanism” to investigate “abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law”.

Tamils have long campaigned for an investigation of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Sri Lankan government against the Tamil people. They have advocated that such an investigation be conducted by the International Criminal Court or a special tribunal established by the United Nations.

The resolution adopted by the UNHRC refers instead to a “Sri Lankan judicial mechanism”. This means effectively allowing the Sri Lankan government to investigate itself.

To make this less obvious, the resolution includes a reference to the desirability of participation in such a judicial mechanism of “foreign judges, defence lawyers, and authorised prosecutors and investigators”.

However, a group of 44 Tamil organisations, including political parties, civil society organisations and trade unions, issued a statement saying that: “The Sri Lankan government appointing foreign judges to its own judicial mechanism will not address the structural factors that inhibit the domestic structures in Sri Lanka…

“A mechanism, which is by and large managed and controlled by the Sri Lankan state, will not in our opinion be deemed credible by the victims in Sri Lanka.”

Other governments supporting the resolution included Britain, Australia, China, Russia and India, all of which helped the Sri Lankan government in its war against the Tamil people. A genuine and thorough investigation would be likely to find them complicit in the Sri Lankan government's atrocities.

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