24 August 2010
It is noted that the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation appointed by the President of Sri Lanka, has commenced its sittings in August 2010.
The Commission will inquire and report into events which took place between February 21, 2002 and May 19, 2009; namely the facts and circumstances which led to the failure of the ceasefire agreement and the events which followed thereafter up to the end of the war. It will also recommend methods of compensating those affected by the conflict or their dependents.
It is also noted that the truce between the government and the LTTE went into effect from February 23, 2002, followed by the monitoring of the ceasefire a few weeks later.
It is also noted that the cease-fire monitoring group has no legal authority and or clout to enforce their rulings. Nevertheless, the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) has appointed the Head of the SLMM as the final authority regarding interpretation of the Ceasefire Agreement.
It is on record that The Norwegian-led Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission also observed that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) violated the ceasefire agreement on several instances whilst the Sri Lankan government's infractions were few. It is also on record that a member of the team monitoring Sri Lanka’s fragile ceasefire was slightly injured after diving for cover when the patrol boat in which they were sailing, was fired on near the eastern port of Trincomalee during the truce.
It is also noted that the Commission will also inquire into whether any person, group or institution, directly or indirectly bears responsibility in this regard. In terms of the ceasefire agreement the parties agreed to set up an international monitoring mission to enquire into any instance of violation of the terms and conditions of this agreement. The mission agreed to conduct international verification through on-site monitoring of the fulfillment of the commitments entered into by the Agreement: However The SLMM had no authority to interpret the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The ceasefire agreement was concerned with the security of the civilians and their properties, particularly the suffering of the Muslim population despite not being party to the conflict.
With reference to the above, the Parties had agreed to enter into a ceasefire, refrain from conduct that could undermine the good intentions or violate the spirit of this Agreement and implement confidence-building measures as indicated in the articles 1; 1.2a; (assassinations, abductions, destruction of civilian or military property); Article 2 : (Measures to restore normalcy); 2.1 The Parties agreed in accordance with international law to abstain from hostile acts 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 immediate action on any complaints made by either Party regarding the Agreement, and to enquire into and assist the Parties in the settlement of any disputes that might arise in connection with such complaints. Despite the violations, the monitors always maintained that the truce was by and large holding, they failed in 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, the political activists and the dissent at the mercy of the LTTE.
It is also noted that the LTTE were facilitated in the transport of arms and ammunition from Wanni to Verugal in the Eastern Province via Omanthai Army Check Points and the Sea to carry out attacks on the former LTTE members of the Eastern cadre in violation of Article 7.1 of the Ceasefire agreement. It is also noted that the SLMM tactically withdrew from the area of confrontation and also failed to condemn the violations of the ceasefire. It is also noted that the SLMM was reticent as the entire Muslims of Mutur were expelled en masse by the LTTE and hundreds of them were killed mercilessly by the LTTE whilst the ceasefire was in force.
We are concerned about the violations inflicted by the parties to the agreement on the civilians population and believe the Commission inquiries should be conducted in a fair and proper manner with the participation of all the parties who are directly and indirectly involved in the ceasefire and its monitoring exercise. The task of the Commission entails a broader investigation and hence it is imperative that the mandate of the President of Sri Lanka given to the Commission should be expanded to invite the ceasefire monitors to give evidence or to make their comments on the complaints warranting their role in alleged breaches.
We therefore urge the commission to invite the members of the RMG and the SLMM who acted as the head of the monitoring mission and their agents who acted on behalf of them to give evidence to the commission. We believe the members of SLMM have failed in their responsibility as set out in the Ceasefire Agreement. The SLMM had in fact declined to adhere to its obligations and left the area of conflict at a crucial time of the resumption of war, thus leaving the civilian population at risk in violation of the Ceasefire provisions.
Issued By: The National Good Governance Front (Tricomalee -Sri Lanka)
East Lanka Front For Democracy (ELFD) –email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sri Lanka Muslim Information Centre UK (SLMIC-UK) -email: email@example.com