Sri Lanka. According to Countryaah, the Sri Lankan government, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the forefront, sought to place the outside world’s focus on the country’s relatively rapid reconstruction after the end of the civil war in 2009. Instead, the light was directed at the government’s refusal to allow independent investigators to investigate allegations of serious human rights crimes committed by the military during the end of the war. Tamil guerrilla LTTE, which was then crushed.
In March, the UN Human Rights Council criticized the government and passed a resolution calling on Sri Lanka to set up an “independent and credible investigation” of the criminal charges. The Council called on Sri Lanka to allow UN reporters to visit the country and expressed concern over the many human rights violations still committed, especially against detainees, prisoners and media workers. For example, the opposition, Tamil-speaking newspaper Uthayan’s editorial board in the city of Kilinochchi in the north was attacked and vandalized on several occasions during the year. Several employees were injured by unknown Sinhalese-speaking attackers. The Council also expressed concern over nationalist Buddhist attacks on the country’s Christian and Muslim minorities.
The Sri Lankan government once again rejected the idea of an international investigation or tribunal, saying that the issue is an internal matter for the war-torn country.
The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, visited the country for a week in August following an invitation from the government. She subsequently accused the Sri Lankan government of undermining democracy and the rule of law. Pillay felt that the government was becoming increasingly authoritarian, and she expressed concern over the military’s continued presence in the Tamil-dominated areas of the north, where accusations of harassment and abuse of Tamils continued to come in. In September, Pillay said that the Rajapaks government had until March 2014 to initiate an investigation into the allegations of human rights violations in 2009. If the deadline was not respected, an international investigation should be added, according to Pillay.
Great attention was given to the case of Chief Judge Shirani Bandaranayake, who, after being sentenced in a kind of national court by Parliament for failing to fulfill his office, was finally dismissed in January and replaced by Mohan Peiris, one of Rajapaksa’s closest advisers. Bandaranayake had criticized the government, and the opposition stated that this criticism was the real reason why she was fired. In April, Amnesty International accused the government of increasing political pressure against dissent. The Human Rights Organization urged the Commonwealth, which brings together the United Kingdom and former British colonies, not to hold the planned annual meeting in Colombo in November unless the human rights situation in the country improved. The government rejected the charges.
The Tamil opposition party The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won by 78% of the vote when the first local elections were held in the semi-autonomous province of Northern Sri Lanka, where many Tamils live. Commonwealth election observers criticized the large military presence in the province during the election, pointing out that it likely disturbed and worried opposition voters
Despite calls for boycotts from the opposition and international human rights groups, the Commonwealth held its annual meeting in Colombo in November. While the heads of government in India, Mauritius and Canada chose to boycott the meeting in protest of the human rights situation, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that more could be done by using the meeting as a platform to voice criticism. Sri Lanka responded by emphasizing before the meeting that Cameron had not been invited to the country to criticize it. The summit’s final document contained no wording on the criticism of Rajapaksa and his government or the boycott.
Later in November, the government announced that a major mapping of the losses during the 1983-2009 war would begin and that the result would be clear by May 2014. The number of dead and missing would be mapped and the extent of losses in the form of property.