Civil society groups across the North-East highlighted the feature published in the Associated Press last week detailing recent reports of torture and rape of Tamils by Sri Lankan authorities and called on the international community to "re-prioritize accountability and justice for atrocity crimes committed during and after the armed conflict in their engagement with the Government of Sri Lanka."
"As a recent report from the Associated Press (AP) citing work from the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) highlights, perpetration of horrific acts of torture and sexual violence against Tamil victims is an endemic part of the Sri Lankan security forces’ operations, continuing to date. Impunity for these acts and the lack of any meaningful security sector reform has enabled this system to continue," the groups said in a joint statement released on Monday.
The groups included Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research (ACPR), Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD), Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Diocese Jaffna, Jaffna University Employees’ Union, Jaffna University Teachers’ Association, Manitham – Sarva Matha Amayam, Tharmapuram, Pupil Salvation Forum – Kalmunai, Amparai, Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) and the Vadamarachchi Christian Union.
The groups said:
"The de-prioritisation of accountability processes and waning of pressure by the international community has only served to allow the government to place these issues on the backburner and also undermine any meaningful outcome from processes and institutions such as the Office of Missing Persons (OMP). The international community’s ‘soft diplomacy’ approach to Sri Lanka simply has not worked. The Sri Lankan government has made it clear time and time again, that they do not have the political will to pursue accountability and justice in respect of the Sri Lankan security forces. President Maithripala Sirisena on the same day that the AP report was released assured the security forces that they would never have to testify before any “war tribunal”."
"Without a clear and credible accountability process with significant international involvement, there is little chance that the Sri Lankan security forces will face any accountability for their actions. Accountability and justice is not just a necessary step for reconciliation, but is more importantly necessary to put an end to the ongoing perpetration of such horrific human rights violations."
"We call on the international community to put an end to any and all military-to-military relationship building with the Sri Lankan military until a credible accountability process on the lines agreed to in UNHRC Resolution 30/1 of 2015 has been set in motion with the establishment of a Special Prosecutor’s Office. We also call on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to open a special investigation into sexual violence and torture perpetrated by the Sri Lankan security forces."