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Sri Lanka’s LLRC Report A Whitewash

20.12.2011

The International Community Should Initiate An International Independent Investigation

The Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations (AFTA), the umbrella body of the Tamil associations in Australia and New Zealand is not surprised at the conclusion made by the Sri Lankan President appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that it is satisfied that the military strategy adopted to secure the LTTE held areas was one that was carefully conceived, in which the protection of the civilian population was given the highest priority.

AFTA rejects the commission’s reasoning that the slowness of the movement of the security forces during the last phase of the military operations is due to a carefully worked out strategy of avoiding civilian casualties or minimizing them, as baseless and blatantly dishonest.

The full report could be accessed at:

http://www.priu.gov.lk/news_update/Current_Affairs/ca201112/FINAL%20LLRC%20REPORT.pdf

Governments, including the Australian and UN bodies have held back any action to trigger independent international investigations for the past 18 months to offer the LLRC an opportunity to address accountability of the warring parties on the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. In Sydney, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd told a foreign policy dinner after CHOGM that the Australian government would comment once the LLRC report was publicly released.

"The report that's been delivered to the Sri Lankan president, I'm looking for guidance on whether the contents of the report have been publicly distributed," he told the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Rudd said he had told the Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris and President Rajapaksa of his intention to release an Australian response when he met them at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth.
"That's what I said to the Sri Lankan foreign minister and also the president of Sri Lanka at CHOGM," Mr Rudd said then.
After the release of the LLRC report, the New York based Human Rights Watch has said that, “the report of the Sri Lankan government’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) disregards the worst abuses by government forces, rehashes longstanding recommendations, and fails to advance accountability for victims of Sri Lanka’s civil armed conflict”.
The serious shortcomings of the 388-page report, which was posted on a government website on December 16, 2011, highlight the need for an international investigative mechanism into the conflict as recommended by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts in April,” added further the HRW.

HRW’s full response could be accessed at:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/12/16/sri-lanka-report-fails-advance-accountability

AFTA is of the opinion that LLRC’s findings, largely exonerating government forces for laws-of-war violations, stand in stark contrast to those by the UN Panel of Experts, the UN special envoy on extrajudicial executions, and other independent organizations.

The UN Panel of Experts concluded that both government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) conducted military operations "with flagrant disregard for the protection, rights, welfare and lives of civilians and failed to respect the norms of international law." There is no road map for investigating and prosecuting wartime perpetrators of war crimes in this report.

This report has failed to report on the use of heavy artillery by the Sri Lankan security forces, on the allegations that attacks by the security forces have failed to discriminate between civilians and combatants and there is no discussion on sexual violence. More than anything else, while the LLRC has claimed that the Commission had no mandate to investigate into any incident it has recommended independent investigations into certain issues, it had concluded that civilians had not been deliberately targeted and had commended the conduct of the armed forces. Without investigating the matter how can the LLRC come to such a conclusion? AFTA appeals to the Australian Foreign Minister to respond without further delay on the LLRC report as he has promised earlier in Sydney. AFTA appeals to the New Zealand Foreign Minister to reinforce his government’s previous call for an Independent International Investigation (III). AFTA calls on the other democratic nations also to act without delay.

AFTA calls on every independent media to create awareness among the public about how fraudulent the LLRC report is so that the public can in turn bring pressure on their respective governments to take this matter to the UNHRC’s March 2012 session for discussion and take firm action to hold Sri Lanka accountable for the terrible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed, and render justice to the victims as a step towards restoring rule-of law, finding a political solution and achieving genuine reconciliation.

*****

ENDS

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