Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka/VIII Recommendations
443. In light of its conclusions, the Panel offers the following recommendations regarding the implementation of the joint commitment on accountability. The Panel hopes they will serve as the framework for an ongoing and constructive engagement between the Secretary-General and the Government of Sri Lanka on this matter. These recommendations will require complementary action by the Government of Sri Lanka, the United Nations and other parties. The recommendations address the various dimensions of accountability that the Panel considers essential. The Panel emphasizes that the recommendations below constitute an integrated and interdependent whole. The Panel has grouped them thematically and it sees each recommendation as essential for accountability.
444. The Panel’s report and its advice to the Secretary-General, as encapsulated in these recommendations, are inspired by the courage and resilience of the victims of the war and civil society in Sri Lanka. If followed, the recommendations would comprise a genuine process of accountability that would satisfy the joint commitment and would set Sri Lanka on the course of justice, dignity and peace.
Recommendation 1: Investigations
A. In light of the allegations found credible by the Panel, the Government of Sri Lanka, in compliance with its international obligations and with a view to initiating an effective domestic accountability process, should immediately commence genuine investigations into these and other alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both sides involved in the armed conflict.
B. The Secretary-General should immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism, whose mandate should include the following concurrent functions:
- (i) Monitor and assess the extent to which the Government of Sri Lanka is carrying out an effective domestic accountability process, including genuine investigations of the alleged violations, and periodically advise the Secretary-General on its findings;
- (ii) Conduct investigations independently into the alleged violations, having regard to genuine and effective domestic investigations; and
- (iii)Collect and safeguard for appropriate future use information provided to it that is relevant to accountability for the final stages of the war, including the information gathered by the Panel and other bodies in the United Nations system.
Recommendation 2: Other immediate measures to advance accountability
In order to address the immediate plight of those whose rights were and continue to be violated, and to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to accountability, the following measures should be undertaken immediately:
A. The Government of Sri Lanka should implement the following short-term measures, with a focus on acknowledging the rights and dignity of all of the victims and survivors in the Vanni:
- (i) End all violence by the State, its organs and all paramilitary and other groups acting as surrogates of, or tolerated by, the State;
- (ii) Facilitate the recovery and return of human remains to their families and allow for the performance of cultural rites for the dead;
- (iii)Provide death certificates for the dead and missing, expeditiously and respectfully, without charge, when requested by family members, without compromising the right to further investigation and civil claims;
- (iv) Provide or facilitate psychosocial support for all survivors, respecting their cultural values and traditional practices;
- (v) Release all displaced persons and facilitate their return to their former homes or provide for resettlement, according to their wishes; and
- (vi) Continue to provide interim relief to assist the return of all survivors to normal life.
B. The Government of Sri Lanka should investigate and disclose the fate and location of persons reported to have been forcibly disappeared. In this regard, the Government of Sri Lanka should invite the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to visit Sri Lanka.
C. In light of the political situation in the country, the Government of Sri Lanka should undertake an immediate repeal of the Emergency Regulations, modify all those provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act that are inconsistent with Sri Lanka’s international obligations, and take the following measures regarding suspected LTTE members and all other persons held under these or any other provisions:
- (i) Publish the names of all of those currently detained, whatever the location of their detention, and notify them of the legal basis of their detention;
- (ii) Allow all detainees regular access to family members and to legal counsel;
- (iii)Allow all detainees to contest the substantive justification of their detention in court;
- (iv) Charge those for whom there is sufficient evidence of serious crimes and release all others, allowing them to reintegrate into society without further hindrance.
D. The Government of Sri Lanka should end state violence and other practices that limit freedoms of movement, assembly and expression, or otherwise contribute to a climate of fear.
Recommendation 3: Longer term accountability measures
While the current climate of triumphalism and denialism is not conducive to an honest examination of the past, in the longer term, as political spaces are allowed to open, the following measures are needed to move towards full accountability for actions taken during the war:
A. Taking into account, but distinct from, the work of the LLRC, Sri Lanka should initiate a process, with strong civil society participation, to examine in a critical manner: the root causes of the conflict, including ethno-nationalist extremism on both sides; the conduct of the war and patterns of violations; and the corresponding institutional responsibilities.
B. The Government of Sri Lanka should issue a public, formal acknowledgement of its role in and responsibility for extensive civilian casualties in the final stages of the war.
C. The Government of Sri Lanka should institute a reparations programme, in accordance with international standards, for all victims of serious violations committed during the final stages of the war, with special attention to women, children and particularly vulnerable groups.
Recommendation 4: United Nations
Considering the response of the United Nations to the plight of the civilians in the Vanni during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath:
A. The Human Rights Council should be invited to reconsider its May 2009 Special Session Resolution (A/HRC/S-11/L.1/Rev. 2) regarding Sri Lanka, in light of this report.
B. The Secretary-General should conduct a comprehensive review of actions by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates.
Marzuki Darusman, Chair
Steven R. Ratner
New York, 31 March 2011