ICJ highlights need for UN action on impunity in Sri Lanka

At the Human Rights Council, the ICJ highlighted deepening impunity for gross human rights violations in Sri Lanka, and the need for a UN investigative mechanism.

The oral statement was made in the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, at which the current Rapporteur presented the report of his predecessor, Pablo de Greiff, on a visit to Sri Lanka in 2017.

The statement read as follows:

“The ICJ welcomes this opportunity to discuss the report of your predecessor’s 2017 visit to Sri Lanka.

We share the report’s assessment that “none of the constituent elements of a transitional justice policy are fully in place.” Indeed, the situation has only further deteriorated since 2017, further entrenching the denial of justice to victims.

Sri Lankan courts remain unable and unwilling to address the impunity of security forces for crimes under international law. We echo the report’s observation ‘in its current state, the criminal justice system in Sri Lanka is inadequate and flawed’.

This will only worsen if the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution is passed. The President, himself credibly accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity during his tenure as Defence Secretary from 2005-2015, would have unilateral power to appoint the judges of the superior courts, the Judicial Service Commission, Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police. This would further undermine any independence and impartiality in the already institutionally weakened judiciary.

Given the abject failure of Sri Lanka to implement a credible accountability mechanism, and its ongoing betrayal of the rule of law, the ICJ calls on the Council to establish an international accountability mechanism, and we urge you Mr Special Rapporteur to closely monitor and analyze the country situation in coordination with other mandate holders.

Thank you”

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