Friday 20 May 2011
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, in collaboration with Pax Christi Queensland, has launched a campaign to encourage the Australian Government to press for the full implementation of the recommendations of a report on accountability for human rights violations committed in the final stages of the bloody Sri Lanka conflict which ended two years ago.
The report was prepared for the United Nations Secretary-General by an advisory panel of three experts and was delivered to the Secretary-General in April.
The report found that there were credible allegations of serious violations of human rights law and humanitarian law committed by both the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE).
Allegations against the Government included that it shelled civilians in “safe zones”, that it shelled hospitals and humanitarian facilities and that it denied humanitarian assistance to victims of the conflict.
Allegations against the LTTE included that it killed civilians trying to flee LTTE-controlled areas, that it recruited child soldiers and that it recruited forced labour.
The advisory panel recommended that the Sri Lankan Government conduct a thorough investigation of these allegations in line with international standards and that the United Nations establish international mechanisms to support these investigations.
The panel also recommended that the Sri Lankan Government adopt a number of short term accountability measures which ensure respect and dignity for the victims and survivors of the conflict.
It also recommended a number of long term measures including a formal apology by the Sri Lankan Government for its human rights violations and the provision of reparations to survivors of the conflict.
The Justice and Peace Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that its campaign seeks to encourage the Australian Government to become a committed advocate of the full implementation of the report’s recommendations.
“Our fundamental concern is for a lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” Mr Arndt said.
“Hundreds of thousands of people were put through the most horrifying and appalling experience at the hands of both the Sri Lankan Army and the Tamil Tigers,” he said.
“There can be no healing unless those on both sides who were responsible for their suffering are held to account,” he said.
“The UN panel judged that the investigations and reconciliation processes put in place by the Sri Lankan Government to date are inadequate and flawed,” he said.
“We believe that Australia must play its part in ensuring that peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka is possible,” he said.
The Commission and Pax Christi Queensland launched their campaign last night at a prayer service at St Oliver Plunkett Church in Cannon Hill.
The campaign encourages people to sign a petition to the Senate and to contact their local MPs and Senators calling on them to encourage the Australian Government to support the UN panel’s recommendations.
“We have also asked that people pray for the people of Sri Lanka and especially for those who are still suffering including the thousands still in detention two years after the war,” Mr Arndt added.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.