Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka

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

( Created date: 24-Dec-2011 )

The panel’s survey of the justice system and measures to strengthen the domestic process of accountability is useful as a framework for addressing shortfalls and making the necessary improvements.  It should be noted however that the Panel’s review does not contain anything new. It reiterates the critical assessments and the recommendations that have been made in various other reports of civil society organisations and human rights activists. The ongoing policies and programmes of government are also addressing most of these issues.  The problems relating to detainees and their  access to remedies has been  raised  by human rights  lawyers and organizations over a long period of time and government has repeatedly  referred to the problems which result in prolonged detention.  The defeat of the LTTE has now created conditions that would be conducive for speedier disposal of these cases.  In presenting its account the Panel does not examine some of the causes that have resulted in the pervasive derogation of human rights in Sri Lanka – the activities of the LTTE during the last 25 years and its impact on governance. Had it done so its critique and its recommendations for correcting the shortfalls would have found greater acceptance and the urgency of making the corrections in the post war context more compelling. The LLRC would need to give close attention to this section of the Panel’s report as the full restoration of civil and political rights and a sound system of justice which protects them would be the bedrock of the process of reconciliation.

In the section on further obstacles to accountability the Panel has a brief section on triumphalism. To begin with, given the nature of the mandate, the panel would have been advised to avoid pronouncing on matters outside its purview and on which it was not in a position to inform itself fully.  It was to be expected that the defeat of the LTTE would become a   cause of celebration for the average citizen who had suffered for thirty long years from its acts of terrorism.  The spontaneity of human responses in situations  of this kind are inevitable  The American response to the killing of Osama Bin Laden  is an example  It was also to be expected that the achievement of the army and its dedication to its task  would be duly appreciated by the government and the people.  What the Panel fails to mention is that all these celebrations were peaceful and free of incidents. The danger of “triumphalism” and its impact on the process of reconciliation was repeatedly pointed out by religious leaders and citizens alike and the initial outburst of jubilation settled down in time. The panel also appears to be ignorant of the concern the government and people of Sri Lanka have demonstrated regarding the human cost of the war.  The complacency of the panel, its stubborn conviction that its own version of events is the correct one and the journalistic fervour with which it is communicated is undignified  and have no place in a responsible document.  What the Panel has apparently not realized is that a report written in a manner calculated to antagonize and offend the government as well as the people of Sri Lanka would serve no constructive purpose.  The UNSG himself should have taken note of the gratuitous nature of the remarks that his advisory panel  thought fit to address to a member state and advised them to expunge them.


Sections and C makes recommendations in regard to “exclusionary policies based on ethnicity” and “continuation of war time measures”.  What would be probably of concern and cause consternation to government is that the Panel gives no hint that these are already high on the government agenda and action is being taken. These may be too slow for the Panel’s liking but then their comments should have been formulated to reflect that view.


The panels account of media restrictions refers to the grave   human rights violations that have taken place which include killings disappearance and intimidation. The panel states that remedial measures need to be taken to guarantee press freedom and safety of journalists.  The need for these fundamental conditions are beyond dispute. 


The section on the Diaspora makes some important recommendations. It points out that the Diaspora gave vital material and moral support to the LTTE.  It  says that they remained silent  on  LTTE  “holding tens  of thousands of Tamils hostage in the Vanni” and that they protested in support of the LTTE in the last stages. It does not discuss the implications of these actions for accountability under war crimes. The Panel also does not discuss the accountability of the host countries for their role in enabling the Diaspora to act in this manner. The panel’s  recommendations that are worth pursuing are those relating to the front organizations and businesses of the LTTE which are continuing and the confiscation of the LTTE funds available  abroad for use in making reparations to the victims. 


<< 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 3 - The Narration of Events and Allegations

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

<< Chapter 5 - Issues of Accountability and Justice

>> Chapter 7 - The Recommendations of the Panel

>> Chapter 8 - Conclusions




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