Options for Accountability outside Sri Lanka The UN Panel on Sri Lanka
In June 2010, following international calls for accountability, the United Nations convened a panel of experts to investigate alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the final stages of the conflict.74 It began work formally on 16 September, delivering its report on 12 April 2011 to the UN Secretary-General. The government of Sri Lanka sought at first to prevent the public dissemination of the report, claiming its release would damage reconciliation, and then proceeded to denigrate it, referring to the panel as a non-panel and denouncing the report as flawed and biased.75
The final report of the panel of experts, which was denied access to the country, found ‘credible evidence’ of serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law.76 The report found
- 73 International Crisis Group, ‘Statement on the Report of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission,’ (22 December 2011), at http://www.crisisgroup.org/ en/publication-type/media-releases/2011/asia/statement-on-the-report-of-sri-lanka-s- lessons-learnt-and-reconciliation-commission.aspx;Human Rights Watch, ‘Sri Lanka: Report Fails to Advance Accountability,’ (16 December 2011) at http://www.hrw.org/ news/2011/12/16/sri-lanka-report-fails-advance-accountability (accessed 15 May 2012).
- 74 Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka, call for submissions (18 October
- 2010) , at http://www.un.org, (accessed 15 May 2012);‘Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka,’ at http://www.un.org/en/rights/srilanka.shtml (accessed 11 May
- 2011) .
- 75 ‘Sri Lanka Asks UN Not to Publish War Crimes Report,’ Agence France Press (21 April
- 2011) at http://www.afp.com/en/home/ (accessed 21 April 2011);‘Leaked UN Report Urges Sri Lanka War Crimes Probe,’ Agence France Press (21 April 2011) at http://www. afp.com/en/home/ (accessed 21 April 2011);Miriam Krule, ‘Sri Lankan Government Retaliates before UN War Crimes Report,’ (14 April 2011), at http://www.theatlantic .com (accessed 11 May 2011).
- 76 Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka (31 March 2011);‘Ban’s Sri Lanka War Crimes Panel Stuck in New York,’ The Sunday
that tens of thousands of people had died between January and May 2009 during the final government offensive. The report identifies violations by both the government and the LTTE and indicates that if the allegations were proven, both government officials and LTTE leaders could face criminal charges. It also criticizes the domestic commission of inquiry as flawed and calls for an international mechanism.