ISSN 2330-717X

Sri Lanka: HRW Claims No Progress On Justice


The Sri Lankan government in the past year failed to advance justice and accountability for the victims of the country’s 26-year-long civil conflict, Human Rights Watch said Monday in its World Report 2012. While Sri Lanka’s war-ravaged north and east became more open, the government deepened repression of basic freedoms throughout the country.

The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa continued to stall on accountability for abuses by the security forces, threatened media and civil society groups, and largely ignored complaints of insecurity and land grabbing in the north and east, Human Rights Watch said. The long-awaited report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), published in December, largely absolved the military for its conduct in the bloody final months of the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which ended in May 2009.

“In 2011, accountability remained a dead issue, the media faced increasing censorship, and the long-standing grievances which led to the conflict were not seriously addressed,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Sri Lankans face a lack of justice, weak rule of law, land grabbing, and a censored media from a government that is increasingly authoritarian.”

In its 676-page report, Human Rights Watch assessed progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries, including popular uprisings in the Arab world that few would have imagined. Given the violent forces resisting the “Arab Spring,” the international community has an important role to play in assisting the birth of rights-respecting democracies in the region, Human Rights Watch said in the report.

The government’s failure to hold perpetrators of abuses accountable remained a key issue throughout the year. No one was prosecuted for atrocities committed during the conflict with the LTTE. The government ignored the findings of a Panel of Experts report, commissioned by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which found rampant abuses by both government forces and the LTTE, and called for an independent international mechanism to investigate laws-of-war violations. The government insisted instead that its LLRC would be the mechanism to address wartime abuses, though the mandate, composition and procedures of the commission were deeply flawed. The LLRC effectively exonerated government forces for laws-of-war violations, rehashed long-standing recommendations, and took no concrete steps to advance accountability.

The commission’s findings stand in stark contrast to those of the UN Panel of Experts, the UN special envoy on extrajudicial executions, and nongovernmental organizations, including Human Rights Watch. Although the LLRC found that government shelling resulted in civilian casualties, an allegation that the government had strenuously denied, it did not even consider the repeated attacks on civilian areas and hospitals as possible indiscriminate attacks prohibited by the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said.

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5 thoughts on “Sri Lanka: HRW Claims No Progress On Justice

  • January 24, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch, how many millions are you being paid by the pro-LTTE rump in the west to write about “justice”. Were you sleeping when the LTTE terrorists killed and destroyed Sri Lanka for 40 years? Why were you silent for all those decades? Is it because you were in the payroll of the LTTE? Have you read the Sri Lanka Defence Secretary’s lectures on “Future Challenges of National Security of Sri Lanka? You should remember that as long as the pro-LTTE rump in the west who call themselves the “diaspora” without knowing its meaning, are hell bent on continuing to discredit Sri Lanka, in the hope a foreign intervention, any reconciliation process will never happen. The army, navy, air force, police and intelligence will be tripled
    in the length and breadth of Sri Lanka, with the help of China, India, UK and US. So it will be useless to write nonsensical articles that will serve no purpose but a lot of hot air.

  • January 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    It’s funny how these hobnobs were so quiet when the LTTE was carrying suicide bombings and killing civilians. HRW is a joke.

  • January 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Srilanka must accept the accountability for the dirty war that they conducted; without wittness. Otherwise, country should not rest in peace. Tamils deserve self-determaination from this country. You can’t hide the truth forever. Its not too late to act. Otherwise, srilanka face the doom.

  • January 25, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Selective ignorance is bliss, eh, HRW? No wonder the world is in such a state with lobby groups like HRW and Amnesty around, pushing their own interests and survival before the very ideals that they claim to stand for. The world desperately needs a bona-fide human right advocate that is inclusive and, well, true to the principals they claim to stand for.

  • January 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Brad Adam,
    Are you an idiot? Go to Sri Lanka and vist North and East. GOSL going out of the way develop these areas. Do not cough for LTTE money.


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