I write to follow up my letter of 2 June 2011 on the subject of the United Nations Panel of Experts’ reporton accountability issues in Sri Lanka.
Since I wrote, you have shared the report with the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a move we were very pleased to commend you for. But sadly the President has not brought it formally to the Council’s attention, and it appears that very little has yet been done to implement the report’s actual recommendations . Furthermore, we understand that not only the report itself, but also its individual authors, have come under sustained attack from people claiming that it is “not an official UN document.”
It would be of great value to those on all sides who are working for a more robust culture of accountability in Sri Lanka if you were to correct these misinterpretations and explain publicly that the Panel of Experts report, as a report commissioned by yourself, does have an established place within the UN system – and is indeed “an official UN document”.
The report’s recommendations fall into three groups – those concerning the United Nations, those for international accountability, and those addressed to the Government of Sri Lanka. None of them have yet been implemented.
The failure of the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations addressed to it means that it is clearly in breach of both the spirit and the letter of the joint statement made by you and President Rajapaksa on 26th May 2009.
As for the UN, we were very disappointed to hear that Ms Thoraya Obaid, whom you had appointed to conduct the internal review recommended by the Panel, has not been able to start work, and in fact has now relinquished the task. We would be very keen to learn of the new timetable and arrangements for completing this much needed review.
But the most important recommendation is the one that calls on you to “immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism, whose mandate should include the following concurrent functions
- Monitor and assess the extent to which the Government of Sri Lanka is carrying out an effective domestic accountability process, including genuine investigations of the alleged violations, and periodically advise the Secretary-General on its findings;
- Conduct investigations independently into the alleged violations, having regard to genuine and effective domestic investigations; and
- Collect and safeguard for appropriate future use information provided to it, which is relevant to accountability for the final stages of the war, including the information gathered by the Panel and other bodies in the United Nations system.”
Over 12,000 concerned citizens, in 133 countries, have sent requests through our website to your public email address, asking that this be done. But so far we see no signs of progress towards it.
Since you (to your eternal credit) commissioned this excellent report, we are anxious to learn how you plan to ensure that its recommendations are implemented. We very much hope that you will continue to show leadership by rejecting impunity and pursuing accountability – in Sri Lanka and in all other cases crying out for truth, justice and sustainable reconciliation.
Edward Mortimer CMG
Chair, the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice
28 Charles Square,