World responds to Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission report

The report of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Committee, which was established to investigate events during February 2002 to May 2009, was released to the public on 16 December 2011. The report has garnered criticism from international human rights bodies and the Australian government for failing to deal comprehensively with human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch said the report “disregards the worst abuses by government forces, rehashes longstanding recommendations, and fails to advance accountability for victims of Sri Lanka’s civil armed conflict”.

“The findings, largely exonerating government forces for laws-of-war violations, stand in stark contrast to those by the UN Panel of Experts, the UN special envoy on extrajudicial executions, and other independent organizations,’” said Human Rights Watch’s Asia Director Brad Adams.

Amnesty International also denounced the report for its failure to respond to evidence of “serious evidence of war crimes” and other breaches of international law. Similarly, the Australian Government also criticized Sri Lankan for its failure to investigate allegations on “both sides of the conflict”.

Nonetheless, the Committee’s recommendations for improving the human rights situation in Sri Lanka have been roundly welcomed. Former Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd called on the Sri Lankan government to endorse the report's constructive elements and set clear, firm timeframes for their implementation.

Meanwhile, since the release of the Committee’s report, the Sri Lankan army has reportedly agreed to investigate charges that troops were responsible for killing civilians and prisoners in the final stages of the war in 2009.