Sri Lankan victims have lost count of the number of government commissions established to look into gross violations of human rights, as yet another one is about to be established, said four international rights groups in a joint statement.

It has been issued by ITJP, WAN, FOD and CHRD.

Their statement says,

"The Truth, Unity and Reconciliation Commission is the latest in a line of at least 36 commissions established by the Government of Sri Lanka to look for the truth, and yet victims say justice and accountability remains elusive.

It’s eight years today since the families of the disappeared bravely started street protests to call for action; since then more than 240 elderly relatives have died without finding out what happened to their loved ones.

Thirty-seven civil society organisations and 19 activists have already issued different statements rejecting the latest Truth Commission proposed by the Government.

They point to the abject failure of past mechanisms, the failure to make documents public, lack of sufficient powers for the new body, the absence of international involvement in the process, the absence of an appropriate judicial mechanism and the failure to implement the recommendations of a long line of previous commissions.

Below is a list of 36 past commissions set up by the Government of Sri Lanka we have identified.

Shockingly the final reports of more than a third of these - 14 - were never made public.

Additionally, very few are even displayed on any government website, despite being for the large part digitised.

Indeed, we could only find copies available of approximately half - 11 - of the 22 published reports of past commissions.

Additionally, there has been a pattern of inquiries being established to investigate only what happened but not to hold anyone criminally responsible, with the result that there is persistent recurrence of mass atrocities by the same individuals.

This raises serious concerns about the Sri Lankan President’s latest accountability initiative.

The first step towards truth would surely be for the Presidential website to acknowledge and endorse the content of past government investigations by publishing them online.

In the spirit of truth this should include reports that name the President, like the Batalanda Commission, which concluded inter alia that it was impossible for the torture and detention at the Batalanda torture site to happen without Ranil Wickremesinghe’s knowledge.

We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to release the unpublished reports and to publish all past reports on the President’s Website".

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