Sri Lanka was marred in an armed conflict between its government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from 1983-2009
A prominent human rights organisation warned in a statement on Monday that whoever wins Sri Lanka's presidential election this Saturday would face significant challenges in terms of ensuring justice for past and future crimes.
"Whoever is elected president will be under domestic and international scrutiny to ensure that Sri Lanka meets its human rights obligations," Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said.
The watchdog emphasised Sri Lanka's commitments under Resolution 40/L.1 of the UN Human Rights Council to set a time-bound implementation strategy of the pursuit of justice for the victims of alleged war crimes during the decades-long internal conflict.
While there have been certain positive proceedings in this regard, such as the return of land seized by the military during the conflict to its rightful owners, the government has failed to make progress on other pledges, the HRW said. As an example, HRW mentioned how the Office on Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations were established but never put to work.
The most crucial setbacks, however, have been in the judicial realm, according to the HRW. There exists a so-called Prevention of Terrorism Act in Sri Lanka that has long been linked to arbitrary detention and torture and it is still not replaced. There also has not been any progress in establishing a transitional justice mechanism to promote "reconciliation, accountability and human rights" in the country.
Sri Lanka was marred in an armed conflict between its government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from 1983-2009 during which war crimes were allegedly committed by both sides.