TNA publishes 100page response to LLRC
Jan 16, 2011

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in its formal and analytical response to the report compiled by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) said yesterday the entire LLRC process and practices had failed to win the confidence of the Tamil community. Also, the TNA said that the LLRC fell dramatically short of international standards applicable to accountability processes. The TNA , in its over 100-page report issued to the media, stated that the ethnic and gender imbalance in the membership, the conflicts of interest and patent lack of independence of the members, the general lack of competence of the majority of members in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law, and the absence of any consultation whatsoever with the victims' representatives and the larger Tamil community with regard to its mandate, processes and practices, call the independence and competence of the LLRC into serious doubt.

The TNA says, "Moreover, the LLRC'S methodology assigned relatively lower importance to victims' perspectives. The LLRC was also under-resourced and understaffed for the task of pursuing genuine accountability for violations during the last stages of the war. For instance, the time the Commission spent gathering evidence in the North and East, relative to the time spent in Colombo, was woefully inadequate. The Commission spent a mere twenty-two days in the North and East in total, compared to the fifty-six days spent on hearings in Colombo. The Commission often cited the lack of time as the reason for cutting short the testimony of witnesses. In many cases, prospective witnesses were never given the opportunity to testify and were requested to merely send in their concerns.

The LLRC did not have an effective witness protection programme. To make matters worse, the attitude of the members towards witness protection - reflected in the lack of concern when witnesses complained of threats, and in the failure to ensure confidentiality of in camera statements after the LLRC concluded its work - continues to severely undermine the safety of witnesses in tangible ways. For instance, one witness from Kalmunai, who complained of being tortured and sexually assaulted, was later summoned to the Fourth Floor of the Criminal Investigations Department. This incident confirmed that the government monitored the LLRC'S proceedings and that the anonymity of witnesses was easily compromised. The climate of hostility prevailing in Sri Lanka towards those who accuse the government of war crimes renders any accountability mechanism futile unless witnesses and victims are convinced that testimony implicating senior government functionaries in crimes will not be met with reprisals. Moreover, the failure to seek video testimony of witnesses now living overseas deprived the LLRC of the testimony of those who are relatively free of potential reprisals.

The LLRC'S interim recommendations, issued more than a year ago, are yet to be meaningfully implemented. The Progress Report released by the Inter-agency Advisory Committee appointed to ensure such implementation reveals nothing but the lack of genuine progress. The failure of the government to implement these modest interim recommendations signals, if not confirms the government's lack of commitment to implement the Commission's final recommendations.

The final report of the LLRC was released through Parliament on 16th December 2011, and purports to deal with a number of issues including those related to IHL. Yet the LLRC disregards credible allegations made against the government with respect to violations of IHL amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity. These allegations include deliberately underestimating civilian numbers in the Vanni in order to deprive them of food and medicine; deliberately or recklessly endangering their lives.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka