Sri Lanka condemns Amnesty International prejudging the reconciliation commission

Sept 10, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government on Saturday strongly condemned the international human rights group Amnesty International for prejudging the country’s own investigative mechanism that looks into the last seven years of war against Tamil Tiger terrorists.

The government said questioning the credibility of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) even before its final report that is to be released in November 15, 2011 is ‘unacceptable and unwarranted’.

A statement issued by the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry said the claims by Amnesty International that they have analyzed the work of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is questionable when the final report of the commission is yet to be released.

“It is evident that the real aim of those questioning the legitimacy of LLRC is to undermine the principle of State sovereignty that constitutes the foundation of the rule that requires domestic remedies to be exhausted. Therefore, pre-judgment of the Commissions outcome is unacceptable and unwarranted, and is to be considered as interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state,” the Ministry statement said.

The London-based human rights group in a report released Wednesday condemned the LLRC saying that LLRC investigation is ‘flawed at every level’.

AI report titled “When will they get justice” said the Sri Lankan government’s inquiry into the country’s civil war is fundamentally flawed and provides no accountability for atrocities.

The Ministry in its statement recalled that AI in a demonstration of bad faith, refused an invitation from the LLRC in October 2010, to testify before the Commission.

“This would have provided an opportunity to AI to obtain firsthand knowledge of the workings of the LLRC,” the statement said.

“While pretending to be well versed in legal proceedings, in the case of Sri Lanka, AI has acted as a self-appointed judge and has chosen to ignore the fundamental principle of “contradictoriality” established by both national laws and international law, including by international human rights instruments. Compliance with this principle means that the parties have early knowledge of the opponent’s factual and legal arguments and evidence,” Sri Lanka pointed out.

“Calls for external intervention were made even before the LLRC could actually begin its work in August 2010. How credible then are the claims made by AI?” the statement questioned.

“It is a well-known rule of international law that domestic remedies must first be exhausted,” the Ministry pointed out.

The LLRC, appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2010, was founded upon the principle of restorative justice and focuses on identifying those responsible for past events related to the conflict and identifying the institutional, administrative and legislative measures which need to be implemented in order to prevent recurrence of such events in the future.

Addressing the credibility issue of the LLRC, the Ministry said the Commission was appointed by a democratically elected President and Government and comprises members whose eminence and integrity were not in doubt.

The government says AI is targeting Sri Lanka just before the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions begins in Geneva to push for an international investigation.

Those questioning the transparency of the LLRC process are invited to visit the Commission’s website at www.llrc.lk, where its interim reports/communications are available.

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