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  • International Truth and Justice Project alleges Sri Lanka security forces of continuing to ‘operate with impunity’

    The International Truth and Justice Project has alleged that Sri Lanka’s security forces are still continuing to ‘operate with impunity’, two years after the change in political leadership in the country.

    The executive director of the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), Yasmin Sooka says in the former conflict areas, Tamil civilians live under a militarized and securitized system in which surveillance and intimidation constitute everyday life.

    In an interview with The Wire, an Indian online news publication, Ms. Sooka said the violations and abuses are ongoing and include abductions, torture and sexual violence and the ITJP continues to document the cases once the victims flee the country.

    “This level of militarization is unacceptable eight years after the war. It also demonstrates that the security forces continue to operate with impunity,” she said.

    Speaking about the change in Sri Lanka since the new government came into power in January 2015, the activist said the intrenational approach towards Sri Lanka has shifted 180 degrees.

    “Where once there would have been intolerance and frustration with the Rajapaksas now there is patience and a willingness to give more time. In terms of the situation inside the country, clearly the atmosphere has eased and activists have more space in which to function, the Human Rights Commission has credible leadership but still lacks capacity and generally civil rights have improved in the south.”

    However in the North the situation still has not improved, she said adding that the new government has done nothing to investigate the very grave allegations of system crimes set out in the [UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] OHCHR Investigation report.

    “While there is a great deal of glib talk about reconciliation; it is extremely shallow as reconciliation involves a reckoning and an acknowledgement of the truth about the past including past violations,” she said adding that there is a “structural and institutional problem” in the country which unless addressed will result in ongoing violations and abuses.

    “Reform is urgently needed for Sinhalese and Muslims as well as Tamils,” the ITJP Executive Director said.

    Speaking about the accountability, Ms. Sooka said while a political and economic solution to the conflict is absolutely essential, it does not preclude that accountability and addressing entrenched impunity for serious crimes is equally important.

    She said the OHCHR has been very clear that a domestic process will not work to address accountability and the ITJP would like to see them impress this point on the international community more forcefully.

    18-03-2017