Centre for Policy Alternatives on 1 March, 2019

The Need for Accountability in Sri Lanka’s Criminal Justice System: A Glance at Seven Emblematic Cases

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This report examines seven emblematic cases to evaluate the levels of accountability in the prosecution of cases of human rights violations within Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system. The report is structured in three parts. First, it establishes several recurrent trends causing system failures and exacerbating the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka that the selected cases demonstrate. Second, it makes recommendations for structural and legal reforms in order to address these trends to multiple stakeholders. The final part of the report is a presentation of the seven selected cases analysed in detail, laying out the timelines of the incidents and the investigation and prosecution processes.

All the cases discussed in this report have undergone initial investigations but have stalled at different times due to different reasons. The cases also span a variety of differing circumstances: cases that have gone through previous state investigations and state initiatives with international involvement (Trinco Five and ACF cases); cases involving media personnel in both the North and South of Sri Lanka (Nimalarajan and Wickrematunge cases); cases where direct allegations have been made about the involvement of the armed forces (Trinco Five, ACF and Missing Eleven cases); and cases occurring following the war (Eknaligoda case).

Whilst some progress has been made with some investigations as a result of early reforms introduced by the present government, CPA stresses that much more is required. In the absence of progress with the accountability mechanism as committed to in Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, CPA urges authorities to take immediate steps with regard to initiating structural and legal reforms necessary to address cases of grave human rights violations within the criminal justice system. CPA also notes that the call for these reforms is in no way a message to delay action with commitments made in 30/1 and 34/1 and that structural and legal reforms proposed here complement other recommendations CPA has proposed in connection with 30/1 and 34/1.

Download the report in English here, and Tamil here. Sinhala translations will follow.