Sri Lanka appoints panel to probe findings of former conflict commissions

Colombo, January 22

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed a three-member panel to probe the findings of the previous commissions appointed by the state to investigate human rights abuses committed during the last phase of the armed conflict with the LTTE in 2009.

The move comes as the UN rights body in its next session starting from February is to examine Sri Lanka’s rights progress in the backdrop of UNHRC resolutions, which called for the island nation’s rights accountability.

Rajapaksa appointed a judge of the highest court, a former chief of the police and a retired bureaucrat to the three-member panel, according to a gazette dated Thursday.

They have been tasked to find out if the previous panels had revealed any serious human rights violations, whether they made any recommendations, whether they were implemented and what are the steps needed to be taken to implement such recommendations.

Sri Lanka, under the previous government, had co-sponsored two United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions which called for independent investigations into alleged rights abuses committed by both the LTTE and the government troops during the last phase of the armed conflict.

The government of Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2019 announced they were withdrawing from co-sponsorship of resolutions and blamed the previous government of betraying Sri Lanka’s sovereignty by doing so.

The latest move the government claims stems from their willingness to cooperate with the UN mechanisms.

The Amnesty International was sceptical of the move.

“Sri Lanka has a long history of commissions of inquiry that have repeatedly failed to deliver justice and reconciliation for victims of human rights violations. Findings of past commissions have not led to any prosecutions of those responsible for atrocities.”

According to the UN figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by the security forces during then Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime that brought an end to nearly three decades of civil war in Sri Lanka with the defeat of LTTE in 2009.

Government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels are both accused of war crimes. PTI

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