The conflict in Sri Lanka has been one of the greatest offenders of Human Rights. It would be right to say that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan Government are major violators of human rights across the world. Extending over a period of 25 years, the civil war has caused severe hardship to those residing in Sri Lanka, with an estimated 80,000–100,000 people killed during its course. During conflicts such as this, a large number of people lose their lives. However this is not the only atrocity committed during such civil wars. Both sides have committed extraordinary acts of cruelty that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Instances of suicide bombing around the world are constantly playing with the lives of civilians in order to gain the Government’s attention. Such acts of the LTTE has gotten them banned by the Unites States as well as other institutes such as, the European Union in 2006 with the European Union re-imposing it in March 2015. The civil war in the country has given them a wider opportunity to violate human rights.
VIOLATION OF CHILD RIGHTS
There are many examples of human rights violations that have been committed by the LTTE however a significant example for our purposes would be the recruitment of child soldiers.
The LTTE has recruited and used children as soldiers throughout the two-decade-long civil war in Sri Lanka. This holds especially true since after the October 1987 LTTE attack and forced departure of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force from the northern Jaffna peninsula. Already at a disadvantage as a result of living through the war, Tamil children are susceptible to LTTE recruitment beginning at the age of eleven or twelve. The LTTE routinely visits Tamil homes to inform parents that they must provide a child for the "movement". Families that resist are harassed and threatened. Parents are told that their child may be taken by force if they do not comply, that other children in the household or the parents will be taken in their stead, or that the family will be forced to leave their home.
There have been incidents of child abduction by members of the LTTE. Recruitment leads to seclusion from the family while they are subject to brutal training. Once recruited, most children are allowed no contact with their families. Frequently beaten up by the members of the LTTE, these children have no option but to be subjected to training which involves handling weapons at a tender age. Those who try to escape are often beaten up in front of the group to dissuade others from doing so.
During this period of civil war there were incidences of unlawful killings, enforced disappearance, sexual and gender based violence, abductions, forced recruitment of children and denial of humanitarian assistance to victims.
Both the LTTE and army were reportedly responsible for unlawful killings through the use of claymore mine attacks. Allegations of the sexual mutilation and desecration of bodies of Tamils, mainly females, by the security forces during the final phase of the conflict have also been reported. Since the end of the armed conflict in 2009, video and photographic material has emerged depicting disturbing images from the last phase of the war. A large body of photographic and video material, much of which is not in the public domain has been received by the Office of the High Commissioner in Sri Lanka. This body of material has been compiled with the assistance of an independent forensic medical expert. There are many examples of massacres like Mullivaikkal Hospital bombings of 2009 in which many people were killed.
SEXUAL AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
During the period of war, the Sri Lankan military committed sexual violence against both women as well as men detainees. The patterns of sexual violence were used as deliberate means of torture to extract information and to humiliate and punish persons who were presumed to have links with LTTE. According to the survivors, incidents of sexual violence were not isolated acts but part of a deliberate policy to inflict torture.
ETHNIC CLEANSING OF TAMILS
The Sri Lankan police and military evicted hundreds of ethnic minority Tamils from Colombo and sent them to districts that are on the frontline of fierce fighting between Tamil separatists and the Sri Lankan army. Human rights groups described the police action as tantamount to "ethnic cleansing”. According to police officials, this was an effort to clear the city of “terrorists”.
NEED FOR UN INTERVENTION
In many cases like this one, timely UN intervention has prevented major human catastrophes.The UN human rights monitoring machinery and other human rights organisations have been activated to do the ground-work against the Rajapaksa Governments approach and its human rights violations. Calls for an investigation into the deadly conflict began when Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his intent to appoint a panel of experts in March 2010. In March 2011, he released the report of the Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka commissioned in 2010. According to the Panel, a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law were committed by the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In September 2015, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released its long-awaited investigation into alleged crimes during Sri Lanka’s civil war.The 272 page report focuses on alleged abuses committed by both sides between 2002 and 2011. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violation and abuse that occurred in Sri Lanka, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, recruitment of children and other grave crimes. The main finding of the report evidences numerous unlawful killings between 2002 and 2011 andcases of enforced disappearances affecting tens of thousands.
The report recognised the cooperative attitude of the Sri Lanka government to the UN efforts and the series of actions it had taken to improve governance to overcome aberrations of the past. Pointing out the failure of the Rajapaksa government to carry out an impartial investigation into the allegations, Prince Zeid recommended the setting up of an international hybrid mechanism to investigate the allegations and monitor further action. Both foreign and local judges would participate in the hybrid court. While OHCHR is advocating establishment of hybrid court, the Sri Lankan government wants to have a purely domestic process due to political sensitivities in international involvement in such a process. However, the Sirisena government knows it has to agree to an internationally acceptable inquiry as Sri Lanka's trustworthiness both at home and abroad on this issue has been eroded. So far, they have agreed to conduct an internationally acceptable domestic investigation and not an international investigation. It still remains a matter of great dispute that whether the Sri Lanka government will accept the establishment and investigation hybrid court or not.
The continuous denial by the Sri Lankan Government of the fact of human rights violation, their apprehensions regarding the tarnishing image of the country in the world community and political sensitivities that are involved in such investigations, is bound to delay justice to the victims. Although hybrid courts are an effective solution to try cases of war crimes in an unbiased fashion nothing can be done till the Sri Lankan Government accepts such courts and allows a fair investigation.
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