In the last phase of the long civil war in Sri Lanka 40,000 civilian deaths were recorded and many linked to grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity. In efforts to bring justice, the United Nations Human Rights Commission drafted a resolution named “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka” as well as requesting the High Commission of Human Rights to take on a comprehensive investigation into the alleged war crimes. Thereafter, the Human Rights Commissioner established the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL).However, the Sri Lankan state, also accused of war crimes, refused to cooperate. With a new president in office starting in 2015, there has been movement in developing a Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka.
To provide regional perspectives and promote regional information sharing on Transitional Justice, the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) convened an international Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka: Asian Perspectives meeting from 17-18 February, 2016 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The two day conference was attended by approximately 45 – 50 participants, equally represented by civil society organizations as well as victims group within Sri Lanka.
The objectives of the conference include:
– Bringing international and regional experts from other countries to share experiences and knowledge,
– Empowering the victims and victims’ families; providing a platform for local civil society actors to develop a ways forward,
– Building and strengthening regional solidarity.
The conference highlighted the current progress of the transitional justice process in Sri Lanka, victims’ challenges in the process and their stories, cases from other countries including Nepal and Indonesia, and interactive group discussion on how to engage in the transitional process. The international speakers include Haris Azhar of KontraS from Indonesia, Shiva Bisangkhe of DFHRI from Nepal and Sushil Pyakurel from Nepal. The details of agenda is available here.
This conference was a follow up project to the International Solidarity Conference for Accountability and Justice in Sri Lanka from January 31 to February 1 in Bangkok, Thailand.
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