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Scrapping the Ceasefire: The Immediate Need for UN Monitoring in Sri Lanka

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The Sri Lankan government’s termination of the cease-fire agreement highlights the urgent need for a United Nations monitoring mechanism in the country.

The government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) must agree to the establishment of a United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka as it has formally announced the abolition of the 2002 cease fire agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The cease-fire agreement (CFA) was signed between GOSL and LTTE on 22 February 2002, as a means to end the decades long conflict, under the facilitation of the Norwegian government. The abolition of the agreement terminates the Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that was mandated in the CFA.

The GOSL official scrapping of the CFA comes months after flagrant violations of its terms, on behalf of both the government and LTTE.

The SLMM has helped to reduce violations against civilians, yet the escalation of hostilities have skyrocketed since July 2006, leading the SLMM to stop issuing rulings on the violations.

FORUM-ASIA is troubled by the government’s failure to protect the fundamental human rights of the civilian population in the present situation of hostility and violence. The Commission of Inquiry that was established to investigate major rights violations has proven to be largely a farce, an attempt to stave off criticism from the international community and the call for a UN international monitoring mechanism. The National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka was recently downgraded by the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights due to its lack of independence. Given that all protection mechanisms in the country are extremely weak, the Commission of Inquiry cannot possibly address all the systemic problems plaguing Sri Lanka.

Therefore we call on the GOSL to accept the establishment of a UN monitoring mechanism as proposed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, so that violations can be monitored and investigated promptly, leading to more sustainable solutions to the conflict.