Sri Lanka's war inquiry is flawed warns Amnesty

Amnesty has released a report today, on the failings of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). The Commission was established by the Sri Lankan government to examine atrocities committed in the brutal closing weeks of Sri Lanka’s civil war.  

The Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) are both accused of atrocities, Amnesty estimates, from independently derived eyewitness testimony, that at least 10,000 civilians were killed. There are accusations that hospitals were deliberately targeted by government troops and that the LTTE used the civilian population as human shields.  

It is clear that in order to draw a line under such a traumatic chapter in the country’s history, there must be an analysis of what happened. Justice must be sought for the victims and the perpetrators of the horrific crimes, held to account. When two opposing sides of a war are both accused of atrocities, it defies belief that one of those two factions should take it upon themselves to conduct a forensic investigation of events. 

It is so very obvious that the investigation should be impartial and independent from either side. So the repeated assertion from the Sri Lankan government that, they’ve got it, the investigation is being done and the International community can now rest assured, and mind its own business, is almost farcical. The idea that such a Commission would be able to operate without bias beggars belief.  

In a 69- page report, we have set out our primary concerns about the inquiry. The Sri Lankan government has, for almost two years, used the LLRC as its trump card in lobbying against an independent international investigation. Officials described it as a credible accountability mechanism, able to deliver justice and promote reconciliation. 

Sam Zarifi, our Asia Pacific Director, says: “In reality it's flawed at every level: in mandate, composition and practice.”

To every criticism that the Sri Lankan authorities have received over the flaws in the inquiry, and the need for independent investigation, they have replied that there is no need, they are already doing one. Unerring and repetitive. Well two can play at that game, and we will keep saying: the LLRC is not good enough, it is flawed and not fit for purpose, and it is high time there was an international independent inquiry. Only that will give voice to the victims and provide catharsis for the country.

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