The Panel of Experts established in June 2010 to advise Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on accountability issues with respect to the conflict in Sri Lanka, comprised of Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) and Steven Ratner (United States), issued its report this week. The panel has found credible reports of war crimes committed by both the Government and Tamil rebels and calls for genuine investigations into the allegations, first and foremost by the Sri Lanka authorities.

Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice and the Transnational Nonviolent Radical Party welcome the report of the Panel of Experts as an important step in shedding light could be shed on the events in the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.

“The report issued by the Panel of Experts finds that there are credible allegations of violations committed by both sides to the conflict, all of which require investigation and some form of accountability, be it through criminal prosecutions or other means, depending on the nature and severity of the violations. NPWJ and the NRPTT are satisfied that the methodology of information-gathering for the report, while –as the report acknowledges- falling short of fact-finding or investigations, resulted in a credible report, on the basis of which further investigations should be carried out so that individual responsibility can be determined.

“The obligation to put an end to impunity for these violations clearly rests with the Government of Sri Lanka, particularly since one side of the conflict was completely annihilated, all combatants killed and the leadership completely eliminated, while the other side is fully in control. While the Government of Sri Lanka has consistently objected to any international enquiry, this has not been matched by action by the Government to undertake credible or genuine investigations of those events itself.

“NPWJ and the NRPTT call on the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil the recommendations of the Panel of Experts and respond to these serious allegations by initiating an effective accountability process beginning with genuine investigations. In this respect, there must be full investigations of the forces under the control of or associated with the Government, which appear to have committed the majority of violations, as well as the bloodiest, during the final stages of the conflict.

“Sri Lanka’s lack of action and apparent reluctance to do so to date, however, places a serious question mark over its willingness to end the impunity that currently exists for these very serious violations. If, therefore, Sri Lanka gives no concrete and realistic indication that it takes its responsibility seriously, the European Union and other members of the international community should support the establishment of a credible international investigation mechanism with a stronger mandate than the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts through an appropriate intergovernmental forum. It is only through accountability and justice, by building a shared history and acknowledging the full truth of the civil war that Sri Lanka’s deeply fractured society will be able to move beyond the conflict to a state of reconciliation and peace.”

For further information, please contact Alison Smith, phone +32 2 548 39 12, email or Nicola Giovannini, phone +32-2-548-3915, email