(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff said that Sri Lanka had unprecedented levels of international support because of its willingness to engage on issues of human rights.
“My five visits to the country manifest the openness and willingness on the part of the government to engage in constructive dialogue,” he said.
The UN Special Rapporteur was speaking at the United Nations compound in Colombo yesterday,
In his comments, he commended the Sri Lankan government’s transparency, while saying more could be done in regards to transitional justice.
De Greiff, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, was finishing a 14-day fact-finding mission to Sri Lanka.
He credited the government for establishing the Office of Missing Persons, which began soliciting member applications this week, and for the work of its Consultations Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms.
Yet, his assessment of the state of transitional justice in Sri Lanka was not entirely positive. “The process is nowhere close to where it should have been more than two years later,” he said.
The report of the Consultations Task Force, which, among other things, recommended the return of military-occupied land and a special court to prosecute alleged war crimes, “should have been better received,” he added.
De Greiff said he believed mechanisms of transitional justice, like credible investigations and memorializing the dead, would benefit all communities.
But he feared the term was being “politically manipulated” to appear as “a threat to the majority community,” he said.
He said victims in all communities, from those who suffered in the JVP uprisings in the 1970s to those who lost family members to terrorist attacks to those who were killed and injured in the final months of the war, could unite under a transitional justice agenda.
The aim should be to “reform institutions so that the violations do not happen again,” and “help to lay the foundations for increased trust,” he said.
De Greiff met with victims and their families in Aluthgama, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Matara, Mullaitivu, Puttalam and Trincomalee.
He also met with high-level public officials including the President, Prime Minister and the commanders of the Armed Forces.