UN Rapporteur Demilitarise North as gesture of reconciliation

Published : 9:09 am  July 26, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Lahiru Pothmulla

Sri Lanka should urgently reform all the institutions of the Security Sector to place them under full civilian control and should demilitarise the Northern Province as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation and trust-building, UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson said.

In his report, which is based on findings of the mission to Sri Lanka from July 10-14 in 2017, the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom while Countering Terrorism Ben Emmerson said.


  • Tamils are severely under-represented in all institutions 
  • Insidious form of stigmatization of Tamils observed. 


“While the Rapporteur understands that the military undertakes important re-construction work in that part of the country, he is also conscious of the highly symbolic value of its presence. The pervasive lack of accountability for the war crimes that were perpetrated during the war, the climate of impunity that prevails within the security sector, the overwhelming economic weight of the military, its involvement in civilian activities, as well as the overwhelmingly Sinhalese Nationality within the military all contribute to perpetuating the resentment and disenfranchisement felt by the Tamil community as a whole,” the report which was released by the UN on Monday said.

It said a vetting process should be developed to ensure that all security personnel and public officials involved in Human Rights violations are removed from service.

“Also ensure that the security sector, in particular in the police, intelligence services and the military, adequately reflects the ethnic and linguistic makeup of the country,” it said.The report said the Special Rapporteur had been repeatedly assured by Sri Lanka that there was no discrimination against the Tamils; that criminal law had been used against the LTTE, only; that ill-treatment was a greater challenge in the South than in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

“At the same time, a pervasive and insidious form of stigmatization of the Tamil community was observed.  Tamils are severely under-represented in all institutions, particularly in the security sector and the judiciary, despite the importance of ensuring that all institutions adequately reflect the ethnic, linguistic and religious make-up of the State,” Emmerson said in the report.Meanwhile, he said President Maithripala Sirisena sought to shield a former Army General from a criminal complaint which accused him of command responsibility for war crimes.

“This falls far short of Sri Lanka’s international commitment to achieve a lasting and just solution to its underlying problems. It is indeed difficult to resist the conclusion that the inertia in implementing the reform package that is resolution 30/1-including repealing the PTA, adopting new human rights compliant counter-terrorism legislation and above all to accountability,” he said.

However, he said that Sri Lanka seemed to have turned a corner with new elections brought to power a coalition government and with it the promise of change.

“The UNHRC resolution 30/1, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, set out key goals for reconciliation, transitional justice, accountability and reform of the security sector, including the counter-terrorism framework.