Military war crimes inquiry ‘eyewash’
Human rights watchdogs as well as the largest Tamil political party in Sri Lanka have rejected a court of inquiry appointed to investigate alleged war crimes by the country’s armed forces.
New York Based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the court of inquiry as a delaying tactic in the face of mounting international pressure.
In a statement, the army said its commander, Lt-Gen Jagath Jayasuriya, had appointed a five-member court of inquiry (CoI) to examine two separate reports; that of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by the president, and a documentary by the British commercial TV station, Channel 4.
Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, was commander of the security forces in the Vanni, during the last few years of the war.
“The Sri Lankan army’s announced inquiry appears to be a transparent ploy to deflect a global push for a genuine international investigation, not a sudden inspiration nearly three years after the war,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch on Thursday.
An inquiry appointed by the commander, a colleague of senior officers implicated in serious abuses, and who oversaw the war cannot possibly be expected to be an independent and impartial finder of facts, Human Rights Watch said.
JHU Welcome CoI
However, a Sinhala nationalist partner of the Sri Lanka government, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) has welcomed the move to appoint a military court of inquiry based on the recommendations of the LLRC.
JHU spokesman Nishantha Warnasinghe told BBC Sandeshaya that Sri Lanka has the mechanism to address accountability issues.
“We oppose the court of inquiry if it was appointed due to pressure by the United States,” he said.
On Monday the US Assistant Secretary of State, Robert Blake, on a visit to Colombo, said Washington believed "there should be an investigation into war crimes”.
International investigation essential
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) described the appointment of the CoI as ‘eyewash’.
“An independent international investigation will eventually become necessary,” said MA Sumanthiran MP.
Although, there are ‘some recommendations’ by the LLRC that the government can be entrusted to implement, issues of war crimes and accountability can only be addressed by an independent investigation, he added.
Amnesty International (AI) said that the Sri Lankan government has been prompted to appoint the CoI. in the face of mounting evidence emerging for an international inquiry on human rights violations.
Researcher of AI Yolanda Foster called the establishment of the CoI as a “dramatic U turn by Sri Lanka’s security establishment" that denied any human rights violations in 2009.
LLRC recieved many complaints of abductions and forcible dissapearances