Road to Accountability in Sri Lanka
February 10, 2014
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Next month, the United Nations Human Rights Council will vote on a resolution concerning Sri Lanka and whether or not an in vestigation can be brought forth concerning the crimes and human rights abuses on both sides of the bloody, decades long conflict during its last few months of conflict in 2009. Many member states in the UN–including the United States–want to initiate an investigation into the horrific finale of Sri Lanka’s war and hold it accountable for its perceived gross human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. A United Nations panel reported that as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the last stages of the violence between the mainly Sinhalese-dominated government and the militant rebel group LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), many of them by military shelling. Crimes against humanity have been cited on both sides of the conflict, as the Sinhalese police and armed forces were known to be notoriously brutal, including dumping bodies in mass graves and rivers and beheading its victims and placing their heads on spikes. The LTTE, conversely, was well-known to have recruited child soldiers and commit a myriad of other human rights abuses during the war. BBC News estimates that in the years before 2009, over 70,000 people had died in the last 25 years of the conflict.
However, despite the end of the conflict, the country’s government has refused to hold any officials accountable for crimes and has resisted every inquiry by the international community into investigating these human rights abuses. Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has ignored two separate UN resolutions calling for Sri Lanka to investigate the war crimes initiated by both the LTTE and governmental forces. Sri Lanka has clearly shown that it is unwilling to start an investigation into its own actions concerning human rights abuses, so in what way can the international community force those responsible for gross human rights abuses to be held accountable? Sri Lanka is not a member-state of the ICC, so what can be done to find justice for those who suffered during the civil war–both from the LTTE and the reigning government?
Here are my sources: