Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka

Chapter 3 - The Narration of Events and Allegations

( Created date: 02-Dec-2011 )

“The truth is more important than the facts” Frank Lloyd Wright


The narration of the relevant events and actions is the vitally important centre of the report on which all the other parts depend and therefore should be the main focus of the evaluation. The narration has to be evaluated in terms of two fundamental questions


  • Is the panel’s account complete or if not complete, adequate , and has it been able to access all  sources of information that are essential for coming to fair and just conclusions concerning the events and actions ?


  • Has the panel examined all possible explanations and interpretations of the events and actions before coming to its conclusions?

The Panel’s narrative deals with the actions of both GOSL and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE ) from September 2008 and the fall of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu to the final defeat of the LTTE, the flight of civilians to government controlled areas and the arrangements made for them as IDPs. The main actions and events are reported in terms of the strategies which the Panel perceives as the strategies of the two main actors, GOSL and the LTTE, leading to the allegations of war crimes and violations of human rights.


The Panel’s Interpretation of the LTTE Strategy


The Panel’s analysis and understanding of the strategy of the LTTE can be summarized in the following excerpts from the report: “Retaining the civilian population in the area was crucial to the LTTE”; it gave “legitimacy to its claim of a homeland and provided a buffer against the army.” “It (the LTTE) hoped that the worsening of the situation would result in a humanitarian crisis that would provoke international intervention”. “Beginning in February the LTTE commenced a policy of shooting civilians who attempted to escape and to this end cadres were placed where they could spot civilians who tried to escape” “It used new and badly trained recruits as well as civilians as cannon fodder”  “Some LTTE cadres would let fleeing civilians through, but others opened fire on them with AK47s killing men women and children alike” (paras 112 and 113).  No estimate of the number of civilians killed by the LTTE is given but the report states the number was “significant”.  “In spite of the futility of their military situation the LTTE not only refused to surrender but continued to prevent civilians from leaving their area ensuring their continued presence as a human buffer.”(Para 98) “It forced civilians to help build military installations or undertake other forced labour.”  The LTTE established a series of defensive earth bunds throughout the 2nd NFZ.  Its positioning of mortars and artillery among IDPs often led to retaliatory fire, resulting in civilian casualties. (Para 97) It fired mobile artillery from the vicinity of the hospital. (Para 94) “Forced recruitment by the LTTE including under-aged continued to the very end. These recruits were used in the first line of defence.” During the last week the LTTE was sending suicide missions in their defence. (Para 117) Some civilians tried to stage a mass breakout but were shot and shelled by the LTTE. Those who managed to escape were helped across by “individual” SLA soldiers. (119) on 16th May a large explosion rocked the LTTE area and a fire destroyed hundreds of IDP shelters. (120) . The Panel makes no attempt to discuss or assess the number of civilians killed.


The account of LTTE actions indicate that the LTTE was deliberately  using civilians,  protected institutions and their mobile artillery for their military purposes in the NFZs, making it increasingly difficult for the army to distinguish between non combatant civilians on the one hand  and military targets  and military cadres on the  other. The account also clearly indicates that the LTTE were killing large numbers of the citizens both when they tried to escape and also by using them as canon fodder and pushing them to the front line. The Panel’s account of LTTE actions in the final stages of the war depicts the continuously changing unpredictable conditions in which the military decisions of the SLA had to be taken.


The Panel’s Interpretation of the GOSL Strategy

The Panel has interpreted the government strategy in the Vanni as one which drove the   citizens and the LTTE forward and trapped  them in the  narrow coastal region (paras 71 and 72). The strategy was not only aimed at defeating the LTTE  but also  “calculated to bring about the destruction of a significant part of the Tamil population.” para 251 (b )- Hence the crime of extermination – a crime against humanity. The shelling of the hospitals and the NFZs is placed in the context of such a strategy.  In this part of the account little is said about how the LTTE systematically prevented civilians from escaping, using intimidation and force from the beginning of the Vanni operation. The Panel does not come to a clear conclusion of how the civilians were taken along by the LTTE as they retreated. There was a mixture of force, fear and voluntary action that drove the civilians.


The account of the operation prior to September 2008 does not receive any attention. It should be noted that this was the period when the Army was engaged in fierce battles  in their  efforts to capture territory  in the Mannar District, Pooneryn and  Elephant Pass. The report deals briefly with the capture of Kilinochchi (January 2nd ) and Mullaitivu (January 25th). The report does not contain adequate information on the operations and battles up to and including Mullaititvu. From the media reports and information available for that period it would appear there were no complaints  regarding civilian casualties during this phase of the war.  During the whole of the operation up to the capture of Mullaitivu the government was claiming that civilian casualties were minimal or “zero” and that they would adhere firmly to this policy.  This claim was not contested and was generally accepted at the time.  The Panel quotes in a footnote the government statement made by the President after the fall of Kilinochchi  that  he was “satisfied that zero civilian casualty policy had been implemented perfectly and that  it  would continue  to be implemented.” The Panel makes no comment on the success of the “zero casualties” policy during this period of the operation.  It would be however unrealistic to take the zero claim literally. While it is highly unlikely that no civilians were killed during the whole of the operation up to Mullaitivu, the government appears to have been successful in ensuring that civilian casualties were minimal and did not become the cause for an outcry or serious complaint.  The efforts made by the GOSL to persuade the civilians to defy the LTTE and breakout are mentioned with the comment that no specific information was given  on how the civilians should do this .


Most of the actions of the GOSL are interpreted in terms of the strategy  of calculated killing of civilians which the Panel attributes to the GOSL.  The Panel rejects the government claim that the objective of the campaign was to defeat the LTTE and rescue the Tamil civilian population who were being used as hostage by the LTTE. The request that the UN personnel media and the International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs)  should leave  after the fall of Kilinochchi is also viewed  in the light of this strategy and interpreted as an action  to ensure that  “there were no international observers to report to the wider world what was happening in the Vanni,”.  The Panel concluded that the GOSL did this in order to pursue  freely their military objectives without adequate regard for its humanitarian consequences. The panel also claims that GOSL deliberately under-estimated the population in the Vanni to deny the population adequate food, medical supplies and other humanitarian assistance. “As the SLA shelled its way further into the Vanni after  September the civilians in the conflict area “were pushed deeper  and deeper into the LTTE controlled territory until they had nowhere to  go”. Thereafter the report states that the government systematically shelled hospitals, one in  Puthukkudiyiruppu (PTK ) and four  other makeshift hospitals  in the no-fire zones (NFZ)  as well as the no fire zones themselves  where the civilians were heavily concentrated, killing large numbers of civilians. While admitting that there is no accurate estimate of civilian deaths it opts for a high estimate of 40,000 civilian deaths as being credible. It does not attempt to give a breakdown of the deaths caused by the actions of the LTTE and the government. The Panel’s estimate is examined further in a later section of this paper.  


When the two accounts are closely compared it is difficult to understand how the Panel ignores the facts given in its own account of the LTTE regarding its use of the civilians as buffer. The panel avoids the use of the term hostage, following the International Crisis Group’s ( ICG) report. The panel totally discounts the government’s version that rescuing the  civilian population that was held hostage was one of its main objectives. It describes the LTTE activities in the NFZ which include mass scale conscripting of civilians for work on fortifications in the NFZ and use as front line defence and mobile artillery positioned in the midst of civilians, all clearly indicating that the LTTE deliberately integrated the civilians into the battlefield. In several places in the narrative the shelling is reported in the context of the army making its advances across the lagoon to engage directly with the LTTE. In the opening part of the narrative it refers to the special Infantry Operation teams used for this purpose. The GOSL claims that the army formations at the ground level were restructured in this manner to engage the LTTE directly, minimize civilian casualties and release the hostages. The Panel states that some “army operations were designed to soften the ground and pierce LTTE defences with heavy artillery” It describes the army action in breaking into the NFZ and dividing it into two  to separate the civilians from the LTTE cadres and  freeing about 100,000 civilians. (para 109)It also reports how soldiers rescued civilians who escaped the LTTE killings during a mass attempt by civilians to break out.  It also accepts that the eventual outcome of the operation was the release of the vast majority of civilians over 290,000 who were held by the LTTE. And after all this evidence which the Panel itself has collected, it concludes that the operation was aimed at the indiscriminate and systematic killing of a large section of the Tamil population and that the release of hostages was not an objective of government. The panel refuses to consider the government position that the military operation was launched with the objective of defeating the LTTE in order to free Sri Lankan citizens from LTTE control. In the panel’s view the government was operating in total disregard of the civilian population.


The Panel reports the shellings of hospitals and civilians as separate incidents; it does not place them firmly in the context of a fierce battle in which the military had to make advances into a heavily fortified stronghold  such as the PTK. The allegations of targeting civilians start with the battle for PTK where the LTTE had retreated. The military accounts that were posted at the time, stated that LTTE had halted the military advance with waves of counter attacks and suicide missions. The army had to suspend ground attacks and launch artillery attacks. The Panel’s own account indicates that the army was attempting to penetrate the LTTE defences to reach the civilians from both the North and the South of PTK and that the LTTE was putting civilians forward as their first line of defence using suicide missions to halt the advance of ground troops and moving their artillery into the midst of civilians. It does not concede the possibility of the LTTE using protected institutions such as hospitals for military purposes and the army discounting messages from any source within the NFZ on the ground that these could have been controlled and dictated by the LTTE.  If the Panel was ready to concede that all the actions taken by government were military actions calculated to defeat the LTTE as soon as possible and release the civilians, then they would have placed and evaluated the intentionality and proportionality of those actions in a strategy and context of battle entirely different from what they have adopted for the purpose of their exercise. The deaths of civilians in any context would have been profoundly tragic but the question would then have been:  could/ should the   army have avoided a strategy and actions that  had to be undertaken with the foreknowledge that it would lead to a large number of civilian deaths?      


These serious deficiencies in the panel’s narrative of the military operation of the GOSL are examined in greater depth in the sections that follow :


(i) The failure to obtain access to the vital information available with government and other local sources.


The Panel for obvious reasons could not gain access to the full version of the government on these events and did not have before it the full case for the government. This leaves a large lacuna in the Panel’s information gathering exercise.  Here it should be noted  that government had stated clearly that  no war crimes were committed by the government or the army and that all the actions taken by it were  military actions necessitated by the ground situation and satisfied all criteria of  intentionality and proportionality. However it was not going to appear before an advisory panel to the UNSG to give explanations regarding its actions.


The panel should have faced up to this fact and admitted to the inevitable constraints that it imposed. The fact that the government decided not to deal with the panel does not alter the impact that this lacuna has on the worth and quality of the report that is produced. The panel does not examine the full implications of this lack of vital information for determining the nature of the allegations and the full complexity of the decisions that had to be made at the ground level. In short the panel’s report cannot satisfy the essential criteria that were raised in the two questions that were posed at the beginning of this section. It has not been able to gather all the vital information relevant to the events and actions. It has not considered all the possible interpretations and explanations of these events and actions.


The Panel attempts to make good this omission by constructing its own version of the Government’s account. This they do by referring to a few statements that Government spokesmen made to the effect that the military operation was a humanitarian operation aimed at the rescue of a large civilian population held as human shield and hostage. These were only general statements about the policy and objectives.   It was a not a full and detailed account of how the government acted to achieve its objective. The panel however decided that it has the full government version and then dismisses this version as not acceptable – all done curtly in four brief paragraphs 172-175. The panel says it does this after “a rigorous review and assessment of the information available to it,” without admitting that this information did not contain the vital information available with the government. Even if the panel did not have the full government account of the events there was ample evidence available regarding the strategy and the methods of operation adopted by the government to minimise civilian casualties. The panel refers to these in several parts of the report. With a little effort the panel could have constructed the explanation government could have put forward for most of the events leading to civilian casualties and examined the explanation and evaluated it with a greater sense of responsibility and judicial acumen than have been demonstrated.

In the circumstances in which it worked the Panel had to fall back on the approach that is taken by human rights organizations: it had to depend on sources of information other than government. As in the case of human rights organizations , such a situation  forces the Panel  into an adversarial stance with the government  and compels it to provide its own explanations for government actions as best as it could. It then assumes the role of the prosecutor and makes the best case against the government. The Panel’s dismissal of the Government’s position prevents it from making a more searching assessment of the military necessity claimed by the government. It prevents the panel from analyzing the crucial elements of intentionality and proportionality as should have been done in any investigation of alleged war crimes in the Sri Lankan situation. As would be seen later, the Panel’s approach precludes them from making any worthwhile contribution to the interpretation and application of the rules of war in the context of extreme situations arising out of the methods employed by a terrorist organisation.

(ii) The dubious  manner in which the Panel exceeds its mandate.


The panel states explicitly that it “did not conduct fact – finding” as normally understood within the UN system, “nor did it carry out a formal investigation that draws out conclusions regarding legal liability or culpability of states, non-state actors and individuals.”  It recognises that it had no mandate to do so.  It argues however that it had to gather as much information as possible on the nature and scope of the allegations to make meaningful recommendations to the UNSG on the modalities and international standards that can be applied to these allegations. This  specious distinction between fact finding and investigation on the one hand and  information gathering on the other enables the Panel  to engage in  its partial and one sided  exercise in fact-finding and investigation  that helps it to build up its case  against the government  and  come to conclusions on its  legal  liability and culpability.   


(iii) The tendentious nature of presenting allegations as the true account of what happened.


The mode of presentation in the report makes it tendentious. Although the panel states that the narration is a list of allegations it attempts to persuade the reader that the presentation of the allegations can be best made as a narration (para 53). With this linguistic sleight of hand the Panel weaves the allegations it has received from various sources into a consistent narrative and presents it as the version which the Panel has reason to accept as what actually happened. The method of presentation  does not attempt to keep the reader constantly  aware that what is presented are allegations nor is it made  clear to the reader  that the panel itself keeps a safe judicial  distance from the allegations  and examines them  only for the purpose of advising the UNSG on the modalities if they proved to be true. The style of presentation makes it clear that the Panel intends to present the narrative as a true account of what happened.  This intention of the panel which is manifest in the report   is one reason for the grave reservations which the government and many other critics have had concerning the impartiality and judicial integrity of the report. It is also responsible for the way the report is being used as a substantial piece of evidence of war crimes to suit the agendas of various stakeholders including the pro-LTTE constituency. The tone of the Panel report can be compared with the much more cautious tone in the US State Department’s report of October 2009 which does not reach “conclusions as to whether the alleged incidents actually occurred”.


(iv) The Lack of Transparency  in not disclosing  the sources of information .


There is a lack of transparency regarding the sources of information used by the Panel. All sources of information on the allegations are kept confidential most of which would have come  from individuals and powerful lobbies with a stake in the outcome of the Panel report and most of whom would have been unfavourably disposed to the GOSL. The Panel appears to have drawn heavily on the reports of human rights organizations and activists particularly the ICG report which contains most of what is in the Panel report. Most of the ground level accounts have evidently come from UN officials and NGOs who had cause to be disaffected with government for the restrictions that were imposed on them. Pro LTTE constituencies appear to have given their own interpretation to events such as the allegation that government strategy was directed intentionally at killing a large part of the civilian population which the Panel  apparently finds acceptable.  For this lack of transparency, the Panel takes cover behind the need for confidentiality.  Nevertheless, without divulging who said what , the panel   could  still have provided a list of the individuals and organizations  who came before it,  and  dealt more openly and critically  with  the nature of the information  available to it and the biases and pre-dispositions to which these sources of information  may have been subject.  This would have given more credibility to the Panel’s statement that it is only presenting allegations and not a narrative of what actually happened.


(v) Excluding government actions which are not consistent with the Panel’s interpretation.


Throughout the narrative the Panel displays s a predisposition to exclude any actions of government that are not consistent with its interpretation of the government strategy as aimed at the killing of a large number of civilians. The Panel does not perceive any intention or effort on the part of the government to respect humanitarian law or to rescue the hostages based on accounts of its conduct during the last stages of the war. The panel had not reviewed the policies and approaches of the military in conducting the battle field operations that would have given an insight, at least to how it set out to conduct the battles and war. It would have been instructive to have examined and noted the presence of absence of specific details of combat operations in the field manuals and instructions about dealing with the civilians and non-combatants.  Other command and control issues of how instructions are relayed and feed back obtained in the battle field and during specific operations would have informed the panel better of intentions and how they were addressed through the military processes. . The denial of any humanitarian intention is made despite the Panel’s own account of how soldiers had helped civilians who were attempting to escape (apparently at the risk of their own lives) and their account of how the army penetrated the NFZ incurring heavy casualties and released over 100,000. This particular account in their narrative should have enabled them to gain a better understanding of the government’s military operations. On the contrary the Panel reports these events in a manner which takes care to avoid any positive humanitarian motive on the part of the GOSL.  In the case of the assistance given by soldiers, in order to keep this separate from what the Panel alleged was the overall government strategy of killing civilians, it specifically mentions that these were actions of individual soldiers (not the army as a whole). In the account of the escape of 100,000 civilians the reference is only to heavy civilian casualties.


(vi)  The untenable basis on which the charge of extermination is framed.


The Panel frames the charge of extermination  against the government on the basis that  it was engaged in systematic killing of Tamils aimed at  eliminating  a significant portion of the Tamil population - an allegation made by pro-LTTE demonstrators in developed countries in the final stages of the war. This allegation is adopted by the panel for inclusion in its list without examining the  ample evidence  available to dismiss such an allegation.  No estimate of the number of deaths is given in the charge but the discussion of the estimates of total deaths given elsewhere appears to be directed at making it consistent with this allegation.


(vii) The Panel refuses to consider the other credible explanations available for  civilian casualties.


As stated earlier the panel’s own account of the fighting on the ground and LTTE’s use of civilians for various military purposes in order to defend themselves were leading to high civilian casualties. At this point the options that were available for minimizing civilian casualties short of stopping the military operation, would have posed dilemmas of inconceivable proportions.  The Panel does not grant that the GOSL might have acted on its judgment that if it did not move in to destroy the LTTE’s military and defence capability as early as possible, the plight of the civilians would have deteriorated and the LTTE would have engineered a major humanitarian crisis. On such a premise, issues of intentionality and proportionality take on a different character and  would have to be examined in much greater depth than  what the Panel has been able to do, given its rejection of the government version and the circumstances in which it had to operate.  

(viii) The confusing and irresponsible manner in which the Panel opts for a high estimate of  civilian deaths.


In its discussion of the estimate of civilians the panel grants that there is no accurate estimate.  It cites the UN estimate which placed the number of civilian casualties at 7721 killed and 18,479 injured up to May 13,  excluding the casualties in the last week of fighting . These were based on a count of civilian deaths caused by the war and would include deaths caused by the LTTE. The last days of the fighting witnessed a steep rise in the numbers of civilians killed. The Panel’s account of the last days and how the civilian deaths escalated is not quite clear. Some accounts state that the final evacuation of the civilians occurred on the 15th. If so, the shelling that may have occurred after the 15th targeting the remnants of the LTTE, would not have caused civilian casualties if all civilians had in fact been evacuated.  Several available   estimates suggest that the civilian deaths in the last days of the battle after the 13th (up to which date the UN estimate is available) averaged a thousand a day and would cover about three days at most until the 16th.  On the basis of reasonable assumptions, the Panel could have built on the UN estimate of 7721.  They reject this estimate saying it is “likely to be too low” and  “many casualties may not have been observed.”  The panel opts for a much higher figure of  40,000  without  indicating the basis  for this estimate. It derives this by saying that there should have been 330,000 civilians in the Vanni and only 290,000 came out as internally displaced persons (IDPs) .  There is an egregious error in the calculation made in para 133 where a high estimate of 75,000 is derived by adding 35,000 civilians who entered the government controlled areas in the early stages of the war to the estimate of 40,000 deaths. Those who had entered earlier should normally be added to the 290,000 who finally escaped  lowering the estimate of total deaths. There is a strong impression left that the Panel is not satisfied with a low estimate as that would call into question its interpretation of the government strategy.


(ix)   The significant omissions in the report  that could  provide a different explanation of the government’s strategy and actions.


There are significant omissions in the report.  The report  omits all mention of past actions and polices that may provide a more informed  approach and  better understanding of the actions of  government in the Vanni operation  than what  is provided by the panel. There is no mention of the transformation the army had undergone and their visible improvement in discipline in respect of humanitarian rules of war.  There is no reference to the war in the East immediately prior to the Vanni offensive and the very low level of civilian casualties in that operation which also had a hostage situation in Vakeneri. Such an account would have given credence to the government’s policy of “zero civilian casualties”. There is also no mention of government’s uninterrupted delivery of social welfare services to LTTE controlled areas prior to the commencement of the operation. There is no mention of  the  fact that some UN agencies and INGOs had got into compromising situations  in their relations with the LTTE and  financial and material assistance had gone to the LTTE  creating suspicion and distrust  between these organizations and the GOSL.  The Panel does not take account of the fact that most NGOs, UN agencies and developed countries were against the government’s military operation even though they admitted that the government was exercising the rights and responsibilities of a sovereign state in undertaking the operation. It is in this context of suspicion, distrust and avowed disapproval of the government’s actions in opting for a military solution that the government itself had to come to judgments on how these agencies will act and make its own independent decisions regarding safety of personnel as well as security. It is in this context that we need to evaluate critically the  whole of the Panel’s account of the restriction of  access to UN agencies INGOs and media  as well as the problems government faced with the estimates of the population in the Vanni which were coming from the GAs who were under LTTE control.  The Panel makes much of the government’s under-estimate of the population under the control of the LTTE and states that it was part of a deliberate strategy to deny humanitarian assistance to the people. It does not place the action of the government in the context of other considerations – the evidence of the estimates of the GA being inflated on the dictates of the LTTE,  the need to manage humanitarian assistance in  a manner which will not prolong the hostage situation, the food  stocks  available within the District itself out of its own production and the net outcome in terms of starvation and under- nutrition given the conditions of war.


(x) The Bias in the Account of Government actions  in  making provision for IDPs and  resettlement.


The Panel is highly critical of government’s handling of the IDPs and gives an entirely negative version of the reception given to the IDPs when they escaped from the battle zone. There are accounts and visual evidence which show the humane treatment the IDPs received from the army, the immense relief demonstrated by the IDPs and the outpouring of sympathy and generous donations of food and material assistance from all parts of the country. The Panel makes no reference to these.


The violations listed by the Panel can be classified into three categories First there are the violations linked to the security–related procedures - screening, separation of families    arbitrary detention    It lists a series of human rights violations commencing with the screening process ; second the panel lists the violations arising out the conditions in the camps – over crowding  the failure to provide the essential services, violence among IDP groups.  The third are the most serious allegations – disappearances, execution of prisoners, torture of detainees  under interrogation, rape.


What is lacking in the entire account is a balanced appreciation of the formidable challenge that the government faced. The government’s explanation for the allegations in the first category was that they were still facing unpredictable risks such as the suicide killings that occurred at a check point and continued sabotage by the remaining LTTE cadres who were still among the IDPs.  Some of the security procedures adopted were all based on the judgment of security risks arising from a ferocious war in which the LTTE had systematically used suicide killers. The SLA argued that the procedures were indispensable to deal with these risks and ensure the security of all IDPs.  The panel shows hardly any appreciation of this context and does not attempt to separate justifiable derogation of rights that occurred in these extraordinary circumstances from derogations which would seem excessive even in these contexts.


The Panel’s account of the detention of the IDPs and the conditions in the camps does not narrate the full story of how the government managed the situation after the initial problems caused by the massive inflow of IDPs were overcome. Several important considerations would have to enter into the evaluation of the government’s actions and performance. These include the  security risks posed by the remaining LTTE cadres,  extensive de-mining that had to be done  prior to resettlement and the  search and  recovery of weapons hidden by the LTTE in various parts of the Vanni for future use by them. We need then to inquire whether government was able to carry out these activities and prepare the land for resettlement and release the  large  majority of the IDPs from the IDP centres within a reasonable time span. Many human rights activists expressed their serious apprehensions that the government will detain the IDPs indefinitely. These apprehensions proved baseless.  Had the panel taken all of this into   consideration,   its   assessment of the allegations of human rights violations that did occur would not have been presented as deliberate government inaction. Again in the case of the camps we have a situation in which government made serious mistakes in underestimating the number of civilians in the conflict zone and was not fully prepared  for the massive inflow. There were serious shortfalls in the early period. But thereafter the government’s  effort to mobilize  the needed resources and provide the essential services including  psycho-social support  and the relative success with which  all this was done has been well documented  The panel could have drawn on all these sources ,  and in judging the initial shortfalls  the panel could have placed them  in the context of what followed.


The most serious allegations are in the third category and of these the allegations that are vital for the process of reconciliation are those pertaining to disappearances. The issues relating to disappearances are examined in the final part of this paper. The allegation of the execution of LTTE cadres is strongly contested by the government on the ground that the evidence has been fabricated by pro-LTTE groups.   The Panel does not refer to the government denial in their discussion of this allegation. It has to be noted that there is little or no information from government sources on the hardcore LTTE cadres who had survived the final battle and had fallen into the hands of the army.


The section of the Panels report  which deals with rape calls for some comment. The panel makes a firm pronouncement that rape and sexual violence on Tamil women during the final stages of the war and its aftermath are greatly under-reported. They come to this conclusion because “cultural sensitivities and stigma are associated with rape.”  They go on to state that photos and videos showing naked dead bodies of female LTTE cadres are “suggestive” of rape or sexual violence. They say that the photos show soldiers loading dead bodies of females to a truck in a “highly disrespectful manner” and also a soldier is seen kicking the body of a female.  Women were separated and taken away after screening. The Panel thinks they “may have been raped.”  The Panel’s account is designed to give the impression that there may have been rape on a significant scale.  These observations and conclusions regarding rape are typical of the Panel’s predisposition to come to the worst conclusions regarding the government and the army. It is difficult to understand how a loosely constructed piece of speculation of this type has come into a report which purports to be that of a responsible advisory panel to the UNSG.


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

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

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

>> 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




The material presented on this website is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license , which allows free use, distribution, and creation of derivatives, so long as the license is unchanged and clearly noted, and the original author is attributed. Some of the works on this server may contain live references (or links) to information created and maintained by other organizations, the accuracy for which we are not responsible.The views expressed in the material on this website are personal to the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect any official view.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...