Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence

Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada

Speaker: Gary Anandasangaree

September 13th, 2013

Check Against Delivery

Mr. Vice President, Special Rapporteur, Your Excellencies:

Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada welcomes the comprehensive report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of nonrecurrence. Truth is often the first casualty of war, and a pre-cursor to attain peace. The right to truth is not a reality for many of the victims and families of war. Of the 40 or so truth Commissions established since 1980 in different parts of the world, truth has often not been the primary object. With rare exceptions, many have been politicized – by the creation of commissions that are often not at arms length with presiding administrations. These commissions were provided inadequate funding, no witness protection, and failed to implement recommendations of past commissions.

There are many post war situations that call for your direct intervention. The recent visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to Sri Lanka stands as one example where the victims sought the ear of the High Commissioner. They did so, as there were no credible venue for them to ascertain the truth about what happened to their loved ones.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission established by the government of Sri Lanka following the end of the armed conflict was deeply flawed. The Commission failed to meet the standards as set out in your report – namely, impartiality, independence, victim centered approach, consistent methodology, and the relation of the Commission to fundamental rights. Furthermore, it failed to include members of civil society. Equally troubling, is the culture of failed commissions in Sri Lanka. Recommendations of previous commissions were not implemented which further eroded the confidence of the people in entrusting the LLRC.

Anathi Sasitharan, the wife of an LTTE political Head, whose husband went missing after the war recently said the following:

“We are the eyewitnesses of the war. We have been waging several protests to know the whereabouts of our family members. We have even gone to the LLRC and witnessed there. Nothing has happened so far.” There are thousands of victims like Mrs. Sasitharan in Sri Lanka who are waiting to tell their stories, find the truth, and to move on with their lives.

The LLRC process and the recommendations therein failed the victims of the war in Sri Lanka. It created a façade of a truth seeking mechanism, without the requisite mandate or neutrality to be an effective body, where justice could become reality. Rather, the process itself victimized an already desolate people, and rendered their experience irrelevant. The victims of the war in Sri Lanka deserve to know the truth, and they demand justice.

As part of your mandate, we call on you to undertake this issue with the government of Sri Lanka and establish a credible, independent, international Commission that will lead us towards a process of attaining truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence. Failure to take the necessary steps towards this goal, will lead us towards a path of recurrence of the conflict, and the continued victimization of the people.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The video can be viewed here. Go to the page and scroll down to Chapter 20. - UN


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