Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka

Truth and Accountability : The Last Stages of the War in Sri Lanka

( Created date: 28-Nov-2011 )

The following report was issued by the Marga Institute with regard to what are termed the accountability issues raised by the Darusman report. It will be published in parts, to draw attention to issues raised with regard to that report itself, as well as the purported facts it covers.


“What is ordered, laid  down, factual is never enough to embrace the whole truth. Life always spills over the rim of every cup.”  - Boris Pasternak 



The report of the UNSG’s advisory panel has had a mixed reception. It has been welcomed by a certain section of the international community including governments and human rights activists. Those who have criticized or rejected the report have focused mainly on the procedural issues concerning the status and legitimacy of the panel. There are other more sober appraisals of the impact of the panel’s report   which express deep concern that the report and the manner in which it has gathered information and presented it will undermine the process of post war reconciliation in Sri Lanka. All these deal with selected aspects of the report.  What we need however is a fuller assessment of the report, an assessment which judges it for its substantive worth. The panel was expected to assist the UNSG in advancing the process of accountability in regard to the last stages of the war in Sri Lanka, both at the global and the international levels. This was its principal task. We then need to inquire how impartially and how competently it fulfilled that objective. It is only such an appraisal that will help us to deal with some of the problems that have been created by the report, intentionally or unintentionally. The present paper is an attempt to make such an appraisal. 


One set of responses to the report which seeks to reject it outright deals with issues concerning the appointment and status of the panel, the mandate given to the Panel and the way the Panel has interpreted it, the composition of the Panel and the capacity of the panel to arrive at fair and impartial conclusions particularly regarding the actions of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and the Government of Sri Lanka (G0SL). Many of these criticisms question the bona fides of the initiative taken by the UNSG.


A second category of responses deal with more substantive issues relating to the central part of the report – the issues of accountability and the case made against the government in particular. These issues relate to the methodology the panel has adopted, its transparency, the sources it has been able to access, its account of the last stages of the war based on these sources, the framework of accountability it has adopted and the conclusions it reaches.


A third category focuses on the parts of the report which deal directly with the process of domestic accountability and the Panel’s recommendation for improving that process.


For the purpose of analysis the report can be divided into the three components that relate to these three sets of issues – the first category covering the Mandate in paragraphs 5-23 ; the second in paragraphs 24-260 and the third part in 260-444. The analysis in this paper is organized broadly in relation to these three components. 


>> Chapter 1 - Issues relating to the Appointment and the Status of the Panel

>> Chapter 2 - Analysis and Appraisal of the Report - Criteria

>> Chapter 3 - The Narration of Events and Allegations

>> Chapter 4 - Issues Concerning the Application of International Law

>> Chapter 5 - Issues of Accountability and Justice

>> Chapter 6 - Measures for Advancing Accountability : The Domestic Justice System and further Obstacles

>> Chapter 7 - The Recommendations of the Panel

>> Chapter 8 - Conclusions




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