The Sri Lankan government announced Friday the establishment an independent Commission for Truth, Unity and Reconciliation through an act introduced in Sri Lanka’s Parliament.
The government stated that the commission is intended to “ensure an inclusive process in developing legislation that strengthens and safeguards national unity through truth, transitional justice, reconciliation, reparation and social cohesion.” The commission will also aim to prevent any conflict between various ethnic groups within the country, such as Tamils, who recently a spate of arrests following commemoration of fallen Tamil separatist soldiers.
Pending the creation of the new law, Sri Lanka has created the Secretariat for the Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism to push to ensure the commission is successfully established. The move came after the Parliament appointed a sub-committee to oversee the matter in October 2022.
International groups—including the UN Human Rights Council and Human Rights Watch (HRW)—have previously leveled criticism at Sri Lanka for violating human rights standards. In September, a coalition of human rights organizations announced they had “grave reservations” about the Sri Lankan government’s plan to establish a commission. Similar sentiment was echoed in a 2021 UN report, in which the UN said that the “failure of Sri Lanka to address past violations has significantly heightened the risk of human rights violations being repeated.”
A 2011 report from Sri Lanka’s government found, “The Sri Lankan military didn’t deliberately target civilians but the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) repeatedly violated international humanitarian law.” The report did not mention or address any of the alleged war crimes committed during the 26-year civil war. To this day, the government continues to target activists and campaigners from the ethnic Tamil minority, according to a recent report from HRW. The report documented abuse suffered by family members of Tamils who “disappeared” during the civil war. Human rights organizations have repeatedly made reference to Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
If there are any challenges to the act creating the commission, they will need to be brought to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka within 14 days of it being placed on an order paper before the Parliament. So far, the proposed act is still in the drafting phase, so no such challenge has been brought.
Source : Jurist