The two principal objectives of the Justice in Sri Lanka campaign are to get the Government of India (GoI) to facilitate and support international action at the HRC that ensures:
1. The UN establishes an independent and credible international mechanism to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by any party, committed in particular during the period from September 2008 to May 2009 in the armed conflict between GoSL and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
2. The HRC continues to monitor the human rights situation in Sri Lanka with particular attention to efforts to promote accountability for all Sri Lankans and prevent ongoing human rights violations.
Victims of human rights violations in Sri Lanka have been denied access to justice and redress, even as new and serious violations continue to be reported. The Government of Sri Lanka’s (GoSL) consolidation of power, tightened social controls and militarized approach to law and order, along with its courting of majority community pressure groups are significant obstacles to justice. Persistent impunity for past violations of international law in Sri Lanka, including alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, combined with growing authoritarianism is fueling new violations of human rights – in particular, violations of the rights to freedom of expression and association for those raising concerns about past and present human rights violations, the need for accountability and an end to impunity.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights presented a comprehensive report to HRC 25 on the implementation of HRC resolution 22/1 on Sri Lanka of March 2013, which followed and built upon HRC Resolution 19/2 on Sri Lanka of March 2012.
Among other elements, in resolution 22/1 the HRC welcomed the recommendations contained in the February 2013 report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay which had among other things called for “an independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law” and called on the Government of Sri Lanka: “to take all necessary additional steps to fulfill its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans.”
During the passing of resolution 22/1 in 2013, the Indian representative to the HRC made a strong call for an “independent and credible investigation into allegations of human rights violations and loss of civilian lives” and added that such measures should be “to the satisfaction of the international community.
All previous Sri Lankan domestic accountability efforts have failed to deliver justice for victims (LLRC, 2006 presidentially appointed Commission of Inquiry) and the country lacks the political will to implement a credible domestic accountability process. The Indian government needs to recognize this fact and work with other member countries at the HRC 25 to set up a credible and independent international investigation.