The National Peace Council of Sri lanka has welcomed actions taken by the Government of Sri Lanka in investigating the conduct of expelled Sri Lankan Peace Keepers in Haiti. It has also pointed out to the reports of misconduct by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces within North and East of Sri Lanka.
“There have been long standing and consistent reports of human rights violations, including sexual abuse, emanating from the north and east, especially where there has been civilian displacement and resettlement due to war and the weakening of civilian infrastructure”, The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka said in a Press Release today.
The Peace Council has urged The Government of Sri Lanka to “Upgrade Human Rights Compliance in the Military to Ensure International Standards”, in its Press Release.
Full Text of the National Peace Council Press Release:
The allegations of sexual abuses levelled against Sri Lankan peace keeping troops in Haiti have focused international attention on the behaviour of Sri Lankan troops. The alleged actions have led to the recall of over a hundred soldiers bringing disrepute to the entire group and damaging those who are innocent of such offenses. This episode is unfortunate because international peace keeping service abroad provides an opportunity for Sri Lankan troops to hone their skills in different terrain and in a range of conflict situations. Overseas missions also provide a conduit for much needed foreign currency to enter the country though staff salaries.
The National Peace Council welcomes the positive action of the government in speedily addressing the issue by sending a high level investigation team to Haiti that included a senior female military officer. On the other hand, there have been long standing and consistent reports of human rights violations, including sexual abuse, emanating from the north and east, especially where there has been civilian displacement and resettlement due to war and the weakening of civilian infrastructure.
The National Peace Council believes that human rights violations, including sexual violence against women cannot be tolerated amongst troops whose duty is to protect and defend civilians. Security forces will nearly always be in a position of power, in terms of essential resources (food and fuel items, for example) and in military terms. They cannot be allowed to exploit and abuse their power over civilian victims caught in political violence.
We believe that the allegations against Sri Lankan soldiers in Haiti highlight the duty of military authorities to enforce appropriate standards of discipline amongst troops, including the importance of a display of command responsibility. The National Peace Council is encouraged by the Sri Lankan government’s prompt response to the UN investigation into the alleged offenses in Haiti. We see this as a positive indication of how international involvement in the form of an international human rights monitoring mechanism can protect human rights in Sri Lanka itself. The government needs to continue with credible investigations in Sri Lanka so that the integrity of the investigations process does not suffer, those found guilty are dealt with according to law and the innocent are helped to clear their reputation as expeditiously as possible.