Sri Lanka accused of failing to ensure justice 10 years after war

The Sri Lankan Government has been accused of failing to ensure justice 10 years after the war.

Human Rights Watch said that ten years since the end of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war, the Government has failed to provide justice for the conflict’s many victims. The conflict ended on May 18, 2009, with the total defeat of the LTTE.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International called on the Government of Sri Lanka to end impunity and put accountability for crimes under international law and human rights violations and abuses at the heart of its transitional justice process.

“It is worrying to see the recurrence of hostility and violence against ethnic and religious minorities in Sri Lanka. While the government has committed itself to a process of reconciliation, the wounds of the past will only heal if there is justice, truth and reparation,” said Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“As long as there continues to be impunity for series crimes under international law, Sri Lanka will not be able to decisively break from that history.”

The Sri Lankan government pledged to provide justice for wartime abuses and to take other measures to promote respect for human rights in a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution adopted in October 2015. While there has been some progress to address these commitments, there has been none to provide justice and accountability.

“The end of Sri Lanka’s long civil war in May 2009 provided an opportunity not only to rebuild shattered lives and society, but also to restore respect for rights and the rule of law,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Yet successive Sri Lankan administrations have frittered away this opportunity, failing to investigate atrocities by both sides, hold those responsible for the worst crimes accountable, or provide truth and reparations to the victims.”

Human Rights Watch said that the Government needs to act promptly and adequately to protect marginalized groups from harassment and violence while upholding basic due process standards and respecting international law.

The UN and concerned Governments should maintain engagement with and pressure on the Sri Lankan government to protect human rights and promote reform, reconciliation, and accountability.

“On the tenth anniversary of the end of the war and in the aftermath of the Easter bombings, the Sri Lankan government should recommit itself to defending the human rights of everyone in Sri Lanka,” Ganguly said. “For that to happen, the government needs to live up to its commitments to provide justice, compensate those harmed, and reform laws and practices to uphold human rights standards.”

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