Even though the ceasefire agreement (CFA) has already been mostly ignored by both sides, one notable change will be that the Government’s official withdrawal from the CFA also means the end of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission’s (SLMM) mandate. The country of Norway heads this neutral institution established to observe and report on each side’s compliance with the conditions of the CFA, which in part briefly incorporated basic human rights. How this departure might impact human rights in relation to the conflict remains to be seen, but the absence of any mandated observers in the conflict zones will certainly decrease the visibility of both isolated and systematic violations of human rights.
Along with the SLMM, local organizations have documented widespread human rights violations by both sides continuing after the CFA was signed in 2002, and for the last two years the Government and the LTTE have openly resumed large scale military operations across the island. The Government now publicly champions the resumption of a peace process only after militarily achieving complete control of the island and vehemently opposing the need for any UN human rights presence. In the wake of the announced withdraw from the CFA the LTTE lambasted the Government as undermining efforts to achieve peace and requested the Norwegians remain as facilitators for a resumed peace process. However in these same public remarks, the LTTE incredulously overlooked its own military provocations and somewhat tellingly mentioned no desire for the SLMM to remain in their monitoring capacity.
It is troubling that both sides seemingly welcome only the most carefully orchestrated attention from either local or outside observers as each stokes a conflict where apparently their own ends justify any means.
Posted By Adam Nord (Sri Lanka)
Posted Jan 13th, 2008