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On March 24th, human rights activists and victims’ groups worldwide will commemorate International Day for the Dignity of Victims, in honour of victims of mass atrocity crimes and human rights violations. In Sri Lanka too, the day will be marked by events throughout the country. Tragically, this country has no…
Organisational structures for witness protection Structurally, witness protection programmes could exist in a number of different forms. Countries often have a single national witness protection programme which has overarching application to all regions of the country. This is also the case in Sri Lanka with the framework created by the…
The previous article in this serial titled Contextualising Victim and Witness Protection for Transitional Justice discussed three key considerations which victim and witness protection schemes within transitional justice must grapple with. The first of these was the necessity for victim and witness protection (VWP) schemes within transitional justice to consider…
Introduction Since the end of the war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been pushed to address issues relating to wartime accountability and reconciliation within the country. The Geneva resolution which was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, in the year 2015, constituted the country’s first meaningful step towards truth, justice, reparations and…
Unless we evolve substantive way to talk about justice for atrocity crimes, the emotive aspects of the debate will continue to take precedence with very serious consequences to democracy. When an historic Obama Presidency took control of Washington in early 2009, there was a wide expectation that the new administration…
 In a paper published recently, Eleanor Vermunt and I argued that international crimes must be incorporated into Sri Lankan law with retroactive effect in order to enable meaningful prosecutions of atrocity crimes allegedly committed in Sri Lanka. Since the end of the armed conflict, allegations of violations of international humanitarian…
The historic electoral defeat of President Mahinda Rajapaksa—an unabashed nationalist strongman—at the hands of President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015 has effected a number of dramatic changes in Sri Lanka. One such change is the opening up of space for a national conversation on dealing with the past. Faced with…
On a recent visit to the United States, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera made a revealing series of comments in response to a question at a forum organized by the United States Institute of Peace. When asked about the government’s timeline to introduce what the government calls “reconciliation mechanisms”, his response…
As Sri Lanka approaches two years of Yahapalanaya, those concerned with issues of accountability and redress for mass atrocity crimes face a new and diverse set of challenges as they navigate Sri Lanka’s politics. Despite the historic advances marked by Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 30/1, and Sri Lanka’s then…
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), and the Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts (VAFA) exhibition of 14 artists from different parts of Sri Lanka imagining transitional justice which recently exhibited at the JDA Perera hall was exciting from an aesthetic point but depressing from a political one. While all art…
Last week, SACLS released a report titled “From Words to Action: A Road Map for Implementing Sri Lanka’s Transitional Justice Commitments”. This report unpacks the TJ package contained in UNHRC Resolution 30/1, classifies the commitments made by the government of Sri Lanka through the co-sponsoring of Resolution 30/1, and breaks…
In a recent article, Ram Manikkalingam – a member of the Sri Lankan President’s Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) – argues that Sri Lanka must not prioritize accountability for mass atrocity crimes until a new constitution addressing Tamil autonomy is formulated, and that international human rights advocates must…
In October 2015, the Sri Lankan government took a giant stride towards reconciliation when it co-sponsored a historic resolution at the Human Rights Council. Despite howls of protest from fringe elements within the Sinhala and Tamil community who opposed it, the Resolution was defended stoutly by mainstream members of both…
The conversation on Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka has hitherto focused almost exclusively on the government’s stated commitments to establish an Office of Missing Persons, a judicial mechanism with a special prosecutor, a Truth Commission and a Office for Reparations. Unfortunately, this conversation does not address the question of security…
Sri Lanka has long played host to a culture of impunity, aggression and oppression which have stymied justice and transparency. The judicial system has also been characterized by a lack of competence and independence. The long list of unpunished murders, abductions and other crimes against victims and witnesses of state…
The recent Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka is a remarkable document. Crafted in the immediate aftermath of the devastating OISL Report on Sri Lanka whose central recommendation was that a ‘special hybrid court’ be established in Sri Lanka, and despite some hiccups during negotiations, a resolution eventually acceptable…
Five years since the end of the war, the state of affairs in Sri Lanka is likely to evoke feelings of frustration and despondency for most readers of this series of essays. The military has entrenched itself in the governance of the North and East and continues to suppress Tamil…