Crisis in Sri Lanka, what should be done: ICG
It is just the war in Sri Lanka that has come to an end. But the condition of 300,000 Tamils living inside barb wired concentration camps remains desperate. International Crisis Group (ICG) urges the Sri Lankan government to do the following as the next step:
1) Prepare a list of those who are displaced and detained - Still the government has not provided the details of people detained. There are disappearances leading to abductions happening in the camps by pro government groups.
2) Allow full access for ICRC and UNHCR to every stage of screening and places of detention.- No monitors in the screening process leading to disappearances and sexual abuses.
3) Provide plans for demobilisation and rehabilitation of former LTTE members
4) Remove access restrictions of aid agencies like ICRC, UN agencies and other humanatarian NGOs.
5) Provide a clear timetable for the resettlement of displaced Tamil people.
6) Clarify the whereabouts and ensure the safety of all the public health workers and release the doctors who treated injured civilians at war zone.
7) Initiate dialogue for the political settlement of the ethnic issue.
8) Allow all political parties to campaign freely, disarm the pro government armed groups and allow independent election monitors.
9) UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the conduct of war
The Sri Lankan government should make public a list all those being held in camps for the displaced and in places of detentions, to reassure worried families about the fate of their loved ones, to facilitate the reunification of divided families, and to protect against the threat of abduction and forced disappearance.
The ICRC and UNHCR must be given full and immediate access to every stage of the government’s “screening” for those suspected of involvement with the LTTE. The ICRC should be granted full access to all places of detention to ensure that surrendered and captured combatants and other terrorist suspects are treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and Sri Lankan law. The Sri Lankan government should make public its plans for the demobilisation and rehabilitation of former LTTE fighters.
The Sri Lankan government should remove all restrictions on the access and effective work of the ICRC, UN agencies and humanitarian NGOs in government camps for the displaced in Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna and in government hospitals and medical centres. Punitive restrictions on visas and on travel within Sri Lanka for international staff of humanitarian agencies must also be removed. Lack of access and the consequent reduction in services only compounds the already severe physical suffering and psychological hardships the displaced are enduring.
The Sri Lankan government should announce a clear and prompt timetable for the resettlement of all those recently displaced from the Vanni. The government should also establish an open and inclusive process of consultation with independent Tamil and Muslim leaders to devise a fair and sustainable plan for the resettlement of all those displaced from the Northern Province, including the nearly 100,000 Muslims forcibly evicted from Jaffna and Mannar in 1990.
The Sri Lankan government must clarify the whereabouts and ensure the safety of all those public health workers who worked in and reported on conditions in the war zone. Doctors Thangamutha Sathiyamoorthy, Thurairaja Varatharajah and V. Shanmugarajah, as well as the director of health services in Kilinochchi, Vany Kumar, are reported to be in government custody. They and others worked heroically to save lives and alert the world to the humanitarian disaster facing civilians trapped in the fighting. World leaders should be urging the Sri Lankan government to release the doctors and, in the interim, to allow the ICRC to visit the doctors to verify that they are being treated humanely.
The Sri Lankan government should make tangible and meaningful steps to assure Tamils, Muslims and other minorities that their rights will be respected and their equal citizenship and physical safety will be assured. The government should initiate a new and inclusive process of dialogue between legitimate and independent representatives of all ethnic communities in pursuit of a lasting political settlement that addresses the grievances and insecurities of all communities through constitutional guarantees of power-sharing and individual rights.
The Sri Lankan government should ensure that all political parties are allowed to campaign freely and vigorously in upcoming municipal elections in Jaffna and Vavuniya – and in provincial elections due later in 2009. For free and fair elections to be possible, the military must lift all restrictions on political campaigning, and pro-government armed groups must be disarmed and prevented from intimidating opposition candidates and supporters. Independent election monitors must also be allowed to function freely and without intimidation.
The international community should urge the government to be open about its own conduct during the war, to facilitate the process of reconciliation between communities. The Security Council should support the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the evidence of systematic violations of international humanitarian law by government and LTTE forces.