February 2020

19.02.2020 - Spell Out Alternate Roadmap to National Reconciliation

Sri Lanka’s government is presently facing a major challenge with the US government designating army commander General Shavendra Silva for alleged gross violations of human rights and imposing a travel ban on him and his family. This is a continuation of a regime of international sanctions against Sri Lanka on the grounds of its unwillingness to deal with unresolved issues of the last phase of the war, including those of missing persons and accountability for human rights violations. In September last year the UN suspended Sri Lankan Army deployments in its peacekeeping operations after President Maithripala Sirisena appointed General Silva as army commander accusing him of command responsibility for serious human rights violations.

The decision of the US is argued to be on the basis of information found in UN and other reports available as far back as 2014. In October 2015, the Sri Lanka government agreed to address these concerns by co-sponsoring UNHRC resolution 30/1 which set out a roadmap to reconciliation. On the other hand, the withdrawal of the US from the UNHRC in 2018 was seen as debilitating those commitments. It needs to be noted that the sanctions are being implemented only after there are indications of backsliding from governmental commitments made in the 2015-19 period. With Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s announcement of the government decision to withdraw from Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship of the UNHRC resolution, the National Peace Council is concerned about further sanctions that could potentially be injurious to the country. 

The National Peace Council believes that the appropriate path for Sri Lanka to take at the present time would be that of restorative justice where the state would acknowledge the human rights violations and crimes of the past that occurred on all sides and focus its priority attention to restore the lives of those who survived to the maximum level possible. Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN, Kshenuka Senewiratne, recently said Sri Lanka is committed to find innovative and pragmatic solutions driven by the domestic context to protect the country’s national interest guided by the provisions of the Constitution, and the will of the citizens expressed through democratic means. Following the announcement of the government's decision to withdraw from co-sponsorship of UNHRC Resolution 30/1, the National Peace Council calls on the government to demonstrate its continuing commitment to national reconciliation by spelling out its alternative roadmap which will address the concerns of all Sri Lankans.

Governing Council
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.