Header Ads

The Ceasefire Monitors should be invited to give evidence to theCommission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation

(August 06, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is noted that the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt andReconciliation appointed by the President of Sri Lanka, has commenced itssittings in August 2010.

The Commission will inquire and report into events which took placebetween February 21, 2002 and May 19, 2009; namely the facts and circumstanceswhich led to the failure of the ceasefire agreement and the events whichfollowed thereafter up to the end of the war. It will also recommend methods ofcompensating those affected by the conflict or their dependents.

It is also noted that the truce between the government and the LTTE wentinto effect from February 23, 2002, followed by the monitoring of the ceasefirea few weeks later.

It is also noted that the cease-fire monitoring group has no legalauthority and or clout to enforce their rulings. Nevertheless, the RoyalNorwegian Government (RNG) has appointed the Head of the SLMM as the finalauthority regarding interpretation of the Ceasefire Agreement.

It is on record that The Norwegian-led Sri Lankan Monitoring Missionalso observed that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) violated theceasefire agreement on several instances whilst the Sri Lankan government'sinfractions were few. It is also on record that a member of the team monitoringSri Lanka’s fragile ceasefire was slightly injured after diving for cover whenthe patrol boat in which they were sailing, was fired on near the eastern portof Trincomalee during the truce.

It is also noted that the Commission will also inquire into whether anyperson, group or institution, directly or indirectly bears responsibility inthis regard. In terms of the ceasefire agreement the parties agreed to set upan international monitoring mission to enquire into any instance of violationof the terms and conditions of this agreement. The mission agreed to conductinternational verification through on-site monitoring of the fulfillment of thecommitments entered into by the Agreement: However The SLMM had no authority tointerpret the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The ceasefire agreement was concerned with the security of the civiliansand their properties, particularly the suffering of the Muslim populationdespite not being party to the conflict.

With reference to the above, the Parties had agreed to enter into aceasefire, refrain from conduct that could undermine the good intentions or violatethe spirit of this Agreement and implement confidence-building measures asindicated in the articles 1; 1.2a; (assassinations, abductions, destruction ofcivilian or military property); Article 2 : (Measures to restore normalcy); 2.1The Parties agreed in accordance with international law to abstain from hostileacts against the civilian population, including such acts as torture,intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment.

It is noted that it was the SLMM's responsibility to take immediateaction on any complaints made by either Party regarding the Agreement, and toenquire into and assist the Parties in the settlement of any disputes thatmight arise in connection with such complaints. Despite the violations, themonitors always maintained that the truce was by and large holding, they failedin their obligation to address the complaints lodged by the affected civilians,the dissent Tamil political parties and the splinter eastern group of the LTTE.However the SLMM had avoided its responsibility and left the civilians, thepolitical activists and the dissent at the mercy of the LTTE.

It is also noted that the LTTE were facilitated in the transport ofarms and ammunition from Wanni to Verugal in the Eastern Province via OmanthaiArmy Check Points and the Sea to carry out attacks on the former LTTE membersof the Eastern cadre in violation of Article 1.7 of the Ceasefire agreement. Itis also noted that the SLMM tactically withdrew from the area of confrontationand also failed to condemn the violations of the ceasefire. It is also notedthat the SLMM was reticent as the entire Muslims of Mutur were expelled enmasse by the LTTE and hundreds of them were killed mercilessly by the LTTEwhilst the ceasefire was in force.

We are concerned about the violations inflicted by the parties to theagreement on the civilians population and believe the Commission inquiriesshould be conducted in a fair and proper manner with the participation of allthe parties who are directly and indirectly involved in the ceasefire and itsmonitoring exercise. The task of the Commission entails a broader investigationand hence it is imperative that the mandate of the President of Sri Lanka givento the Commission should be expanded to invite the ceasefire monitors to give evidenceor to make their comments on the complaints warranting their role in allegedbreaches.

We therefore urge the commission to invite the members of the RNG andthe SLMM who acted as the head of the monitoring mission and their agents whoacted on behalf of them to give evidence to the commission. We believe themembers of the SLMM have failed in their responsibility as set out in theCeasefire Agreement. The SLMM had in fact declined to adhere to its obligationsand left the area of conflict at a crucial time of the resumption of war, thusleaving the civilian population at risk in violation of the Ceasefireprovisions.

Issued By: The National Good Governance Front (Tricomalee -Sri Lanka)
East Lanka Front For Democracy (ELFD) –email: kilakku@hotmail.com
Sri Lanka Muslim Information Centre UK (SLMIC-UK) -email:slmic@hotmail.co.uk

No comments

Powered by Blogger.