Human Rights Accountability in Sri Lanka

The issue of accountability for past human rights abuses gained considerable prominence in the 1980s as unprecedented global political change focused attention on the crimes of ousted regimes. Unlike most of the nations experiencing radical political change and facing accountability issues, however, Sri Lanka’s political system remains intact. It has enjoyed regular elections since it gained independence in 1948, but Sri Lanka has been torn by a decade-long civil war, several militant insurgencies and brutal government anti-insurgency campaigns. Demands for accountability for past abuses are aimed squarely at perpetrators within the current administration and emanate from an angry citizenry, from human rights groups, and from Sri Lanka’s donor nations. This report from Asia Watch examines this volatile issue in the context of the Sri Lankan conflict and concludes that despite a good faith effort by the government to address human rights abuses, it will be some time before the principle of accountability takes root in Sri Lanka.

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