Sinhala  Tamil    Seperate    
Governtment of Sri Lanka

Chapter 7 - The Recommendations of the Panel

( Created date: 25-Dec-2011 )

In part A of its first recommendation, the panel recommends that the Government should initiate an effective domestic accountability process to investigate into the alleged violations.   It is unlikely that the government would pay any attention to this recommendation in view of its stand that an investigation of this nature is not warranted and the present process of restorative justice is better suited to deal   with all issues of accountability than the approach recommended by the Panel.   


In part B it recommends that the UNSG proceed immediately to establish an international mechanism which should monitor the domestic process and conduct independent investigations into the alleged violations. First the arrangement suggested by the panel of concurrent independent investigations shows little knowledge of what is administratively feasible; it is unprecedented in the UN system and totally impractical. Second, the UNSG cannot “immediately” establish an international mechanism. He simply does not have the authority to do so. The Panel which is the expert body on these issues should have known better than to recommend a mechanism which was not a modality that could be adopted under the UN system. The manner in which it has made this recommendation seriously calls to questions its commitment  to perform its task adequately.


Recommendation 2 deals with other immediate measures to advance accountability. Most of these are based on its survey of the justice system. These all form part of the government agenda for restorative justice peace and reconciliation.


Recommendation 3 part A calls for initiating a process to inquire into the root causes of the conflict. It is not clear what the Panel means by “root causes”. The panel also does not seem to take into account the vast body of scholarly and analytical work done on the ethnic conflict as well as the documentation that is available from the political processes such as the All party conferences and negotiating processes. The process of searching for an acceptable political solution necessarily draws on all this knowledge. One task of the LLRC is to make available to itself a distillation of this knowledge in making its recommendations for dealing with Tamil grievances.  The use of the term “root causes” which has become a catch phrase can also be misleading when dealing with the dynamics of the ethnic conflict. We need to take account of its changing character as it moved into the 1970s and the 1980s when a new generation took up the cause and the conflict sprung new roots in foreign countries with their support that enabled the LTTE to grow into a major terrorist organisation.   


Recommendation B which recommends a formal acknowledgement by government of its role in and responsibility for extensive civilian casualties in the final stages of the conflict is based on the Panels conclusions regarding the Government’s culpability. For reasons which have been discussed elsewhere it is a meaningless recommendation in the form in which it is made.  The concluding section of this paper discusses how government might face the truth  of the final stages of the war.


The recommendation 4  says that the  UNHRC should be invited to reconsider the May 2009 resolution. This is not a modality which the UNSG can adopt and the recommendation is out of place. The Panel gives the impression that it is seeking ways and means of   pressing the UN system to take action against the Sri Lankan government.


The recommendation regarding the actions of the UN system is important. If action is pursued on their recommendation it would reveal the dilemmas the UN bureaucracy faces when it works with a terrorist organization  and has to watch and acquiesce in  all their violations of human  rights. A searching analysis of the conduct of the  UN personnel  is also an  essential corollary to the analysis the panel makes of government’s action in dealing with  UN personnel and the  government’s resolve to keep full national control of  the developments in the last stages of the war and its  aftermath  when dealing with the IDPs.  The UN may have to design new codes of conduct for UN personnel in these situations.


All these issues point to an overriding concern  that the panel may have done well to discuss and inform the UNSG.  The UN system is not immune to manipulation, neither are governments.  In a complex national crisis such as the one faced by Sri Lanka,  it is important that the UNSG also institute mechanisms to examine the integrity of UN operations, failures and manipulations.  Member nations may and should institute action to verify UN activities that have grown bureaucracies  whose accountability cannot be easily verified in real time.  The UN operations have to be subject to the same standards that member countries may subject their own judiciaries, police departments, etc, in the face of collusion and criminality, media involvement and large scale non-competitive finance.


It should be noted that apart from the recommendation regarding the UN all three recommendations deal with the government. There is nothing mentioned regarding the process of accountability for the crimes committed by the LTTE leadership as all of them are dead. Nevertheless a full process of investigation into these crimes from all existing sources and a full documentation of these crimes would be essential to define the context in which the government actions were taken and to complete the account of the final stages of the war. It would be useful for determining the process of reparation to their victims. The victim-centred approach the panel recommends will be meaningless if it neglects the large number of victims of LTTE crimes. In the panel’s almost frenzied effort to focus on the government’s accountability, it  forgets the victims of the LTTE.   


The panel makes no specific recommendations to advance the process of accountability in respect of the remnants of the LTTE organization abroad, the Diaspora and the host countries which contain the Diaspora. In the conclusions the Panel suggests some courses of action against the LTTE front organizations and the Diaspora such as the confiscation of funds.  Some developed countries are investigating into crimes committed by the LTTE and taking action. The panel could have taken all these into consideration and proposed an appropriate framework of accountability that will deal with all the relevant actions and omissions on the part of these external agents who had a crucial role to play in the conflict. 


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

>> Chapter 8 - Conclusions



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