Summary: 23 February 2012, Brussels – Declaration by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the European Union on Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
The EU believes that the end of the conflict has offered a historic opportunity to achieve a peaceful and stable future for the people of Sri Lanka. Genuine reconciliation among all groups and communities in this country is essential and this requires justice and accountability for past events. The EU notes the view of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lay in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people.
The EU encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to act expeditiously on the LLRC’s recommendations, which, if implemented effectively, can make a significant contribution to the process of national reconciliation, including on issues such as devolution, land distribution, independence of institutions, media freedom, language policy and openness towards the donor community. The LLRC also makes useful recommendations concerning the re-establishment and empowerment of the civil administration in the North, the phasing out of the involvement of the security forces in civilian activities, the de-linking of the police from the armed forces, the disarmament of illegal armed groups and the protection of vulnerable groups.
The EU regrets that questions raised in the report of the expert panel of the UN Secretary General have to a large extent not been reflected. The EU recalls that the issue of accountability is an essential part of the process of national reconciliation and implies inquiries into specific responsibilities for possible crimes committed by the regular forces as well as by the LTTE, which continues to be listed as a terrorist organisation in the EU. The LLRC has called for such investigations and the EU believes that Sri Lanka should begin by pursuing these.
The EU also continues to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to engage with the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) and relevant UN bodies both on the LLRC report and the report of the Advisory Panel appointed by the UNSG. Sri Lanka, as an active member of the international community, has an opportunity to present an implementation plan which shows the world that concrete and meaningful measures are effectively being taken towards genuine reconciliation.