Sri Lanka needs hybrid special court to probe grave HR violations: UN Rights Chief

Sep 16, 2015 (LBO) – A UN report published today has identified patterns of grave violations in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011, strongly indicating that war crimes and crimes against humanity were most likely committed by both sides in the conflict.

The report recommends the establishment of a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, as an essential step towards justice.

“Our investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred in Sri Lanka, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, recruitment of children and other grave crimes,”

“Importantly, the report reveals violations that are among the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid said.

“This report is being presented in a new political context in Sri Lanka, which offers grounds for hope. It is crucial that this historic opportunity for truly fundamental change is not allowed to slip.” he said.

Among the most serious crimes documented in the report are the following:

Unlawful killings: 

Numerous unlawful killings between 2002 and 2011, were allegedly committed by both parties, as well as by paramilitary groups linked to the security forces.

Tamil politicians, humanitarian workers, journalists and ordinary civilians were among the alleged victims of Sri Lankan security forces and associated paramilitaries.

There appear to have been discernible patterns of killings, for instance, in the vicinity of security force checkpoints and military bases, and also of extrajudicial killings of individuals while in the custody of security forces, including people who were captured or surrendered at the end of the conflict.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) also reportedly killed Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese civilians, through indiscriminate suicide bombings and mine attacks, as well as assassinations of individuals including public officials, academics and dissenting Tamil political figures.

Sexual and gender-based violence:

One shocking finding of the investigation was the extent to which sexual violence was committed against detainees, often extremely brutally, by the Sri Lankan security forces, with men as likely to be victims as women.

Harrowing testimony from 30 survivors of sexual violence who were interviewed indicates that incidents of sexual violence were not isolated acts but part of a deliberate policy to inflict torture, following similar patterns and using similar tools.

The report describes sexual torture which occurred during interrogation sessions, and also patterns of rape, much of which appeared to occur outside of interrogations sessions.

Sexual torture was performed in a wide range of detention locations by different security forces, both during and after the conflict.

Not a single perpetrator of sexual violence related to the armed conflict is so far known to have been convicted.

Enforced disappearances:

Enforced disappearances affected tens of thousands of Sri Lankans for decades, including throughout the 26-year armed conflict with the LTTE.

There are reasonable grounds to believe that enforced disappearances may have been committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population.

In particular, there are reasonable grounds to believe that a large number of individuals who surrendered during the final phase of the war were disappeared, and remain unaccounted for.

Many others, including people not directly linked to the conflict, disappeared, typically after abduction in ‘white vans.’

Torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment:

Brutal use of torture by the Sri Lankan security forces was widespread throughout the decade covered by the report, and in particular during the immediate aftermath of the conflict.

Some of the more commonly used centres had rooms that were set up with torture equipment, illustrating the premeditated and systematic nature of the use of torture.

These rooms contained objects including metal bars and poles for beatings, barrels of water used for waterboarding, and pulleys from which victims were suspended.

Victims interviewed for the report described seeing bloodstains on the walls or floors of these rooms, and described their own torture in detail.

Recruitment of children and their use in hostilities, as well as abduction and forced recruitment of adults:

Information indicates patterns of abductions leading to forced recruitment of adults by the LTTE, which intensified towards the end of the conflict.

Extensive recruitment and use of children in armed conflict by the LTTE and by the paramilitary Karuna group, which supported the Government following its spilt from the LTTE in 2004, was also documented.

Children were often recruited by force from homes, schools, temples and checkpoints, and, after basic training were sent to the frontlines.

According to numerous reports, in the last few months of the conflict, the LTTE increasingly recruited children below the age of 15. These practices would amount to war crimes if established in a court of law.

Attacks on civilians and civilian objects: 

There are reasonable grounds to believe that many attacks during the last phase of the war did not comply with international humanitarian law principles on the conduct of hostilities, particularly the principle of distinction.

The report documents repeated shelling by Government forces of hospitals and humanitarian facilities in the densely populated ‘No Fire Zones,’ which the Government itself had announced but which were inside areas controlled by the LTTE.

Directing attacks against civilian objects and/or against civilians not taking direct part in hostilities is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime.

The presence of LTTE cadres directly participating in hostilities and operating within the predominantly civilian population, launching attacks from close proximity of these locations, and the LTTE policy of forcing civilians to remain within areas of active hostilities, may also have violated international humanitarian law.

However, this would not have absolved the Government of its own responsibilities under international humanitarian law.

The duty to respect international humanitarian law does not depend on the conduct of the opposing party, and is not conditioned on reciprocity.

Denial of humanitarian assistance:

There are reasonable grounds to believe that the Government placed considerable restrictions on freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel and activities, and may have deliberately blocked the delivery of sufficient food aid and medical supplies in the Vanni in the Northern Province, which may amount to the use of starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare.

Such conduct, if proven in a court of law, may constitute a war crime.

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BKVWHK
BKVWHK
6 years ago

It is possible that “hybrid” is an euphemism for “kangaroo”. With no disrespect to Australians.

Sas
Sas
6 years ago
Reply to  BKVWHK

Learn the meaning of Hybrid before talking

BKVWHK
BKVWHK
6 years ago
Reply to  Sas

Let’s see what the decisions of the “court” are. Then you will find out which word is correct.

BKVWHK
BKVWHK
6 years ago
Reply to  Sas

You should take your own advice. We just dodged a bullet after MR spoke to Ranil and explained what the Hybrid will mean.

Sikuru
Sikuru
6 years ago
Reply to  BKVWHK

LOL MR spoke to Ranil?? LOL
Are you stupid or a clown?

DillonDP
DillonDP
6 years ago

Sometimes its really a joke to see how a country kill its own and then try to cover it up, and some morons support the said move,,, little that they know the same who tried to cover such would not hesitate a second to do the same for him who defends such coward crows

Jehan
Jehan
6 years ago
Reply to  DillonDP

lol we had a war. a separatist war. this war was initiated by india and then later supported by the west. all wars should come to an end. when it comes to an end it’s good to make sure we win else we are at the mercy of the enemy. obviously some morons doesn’t know how to support his/her own side but support the enemy. this doesn’t ever happen in say USA or UK. that is why we are still a third world country. go get a life irresponsible naive idiot.

Sas
Sas
6 years ago
Reply to  Jehan

LOL instead of insulting others and calling them naive you should look at yourself in a mirror

The war was never initiated by India, It was created by we Sri Lankans through the Sinhala only Act and Black July India only joined it later and made it worse.
The west never supported the LTTE they helped us to end teh war by giving us millions of aid ,ships ,aircraft ,helicopters ,training our soldiers

The west even destroyed LTTE funding networks as soon as LTTE became a terrorist organization

Jehan
Jehan
6 years ago
Reply to  Sas

see? there are morons who doesn’t ever defend ones own country but always rush into defend the westerners. Idiot, before Sinhala only act was brought we had an English only system. Did any war break out? also Tamil was made an official language in 1958 but the armed separatist movement started in late 70s? Did you ever think how that is possible? Yeah read the history, Tamil militants were trained in India. What is wrong with you to defend that?

And In April 2008 Foreign ministers of England and France came to Sri Lanka to force a ceasefire. When Mahinda showed them the middle finger UN chief Banki moon tried to visit the war zone in May which effective means a ceasefire because our troops can’t engage in war once the monkey boon is there. That is the history and that is how painful it was for Sri Lankans to stop that meaningless war. Have a respect to the soldiers who sacrificed the ultimate so Sri Lanka isn’t a Syria and you are not a refugee. You are not only naive you are ungrateful.

anon
anon
6 years ago
Reply to  Jehan

@Jehan
Have a respect to the soldiers who sacrificed the ultimate so”
When the war was on, where were you (why were you not in the army?)
AND since the end of the war, how much (LKR) of your hard earned (and taxes duly paid) money have you contributed to the welfare of the armed forces?

Sikuru
Sikuru
6 years ago
Reply to  Jehan

Jehan is a totally blind worshiper of MR
He wasn’t “ungrateful” or made any statement about soldiers
I am angry that you are using them to defend the insane nationalism

The english only system was what stopped the war where both Tamils and Sinhalese had equal opportunities. How the hell can it start a war?

Why don’t you read how it started! Most of the LTTE leaders were already fighting in the 50s the Eelam students movement was already active
India only came later.
You are naive ,blind and stupid

Liberal One
Liberal One
6 years ago
Reply to  DillonDP

Yeah we should have let bombs go off in buses and 1/3rd part of the country be run by an illegal armed group eternally. That is in the best interest of Sri Lankan citizen I’m sure be it Sinhalese or Tamil. It’s beyond me how slaves of this magnitude of West still manage to be born in this century.

Nuwan
Nuwan
6 years ago

We will be given two options. Either create the next Crimea in north and east or let our forces be punished. How sad it to be born in a third world country in this unfair world.

Sikuru
Sikuru
6 years ago

Yeah thats MR speaking to Ranil! Do you think the rest are fools like you who believes every single thing MR says?
MR didn’t say anything to Ranil and gave a link saying something else!

BKVWHK
BKVWHK
6 years ago
Reply to  Sikuru

Yes, I think there are possibly other crass morons like you. Ha ha ha. The deal almost went through with the Hybrid deal, which people were saying is a good thing. Later they understood, after the public letter sent by MR … immediately, within 24 hours.

KAmal
KAmal
6 years ago
Reply to  BKVWHK

Why don’t you say something that makes sense. We have no time for your childish fairy tales.