A Factual Appraisal of the OISL Report: A Rebuttal to the Allegations Against the Armed Forces

Author: Dharshan Weerasekera

Commissioned by – The Federation of National Organizations
Sponsored by – The Global Sri Lanka Forum

Editors :  Kalyananda Thiranagama
                   Raja Gunaratne

Volume One

Federation of National Organizations
Colombo, Sri Lanka
27th January 2017

Dear Mr. Weerasekera,


We wish to draw your attention to the following matters which form the background to our present request. On 9th February 2016, UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Al Hussein ended his official visit to Sri Lanka with a statement where he said inter alia:

―Let me be as plain as I can: the international community wants to welcome Sri Lanka back into its fold without any lingering reservations. It wants to help Sri Lanka become an economic powerhouse. It wants Sri Lanka‘s armed forced to face up to the stain on their reputation, so that they can once again play a constructive role in international peace-keeping operations, and command the full respect that so many of their members deserve.(Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Al Hussein, at the end of his mission to Sri Lanka,‘ 9th February 2016, www.reliefweb.int )

We are especially concerned by the High Commissioner‘s assertion that there is a stain on the reputation of Sri Lanka‘s armed forces. The aforesaid ‗stain,‘ presumably, is the allegation that the armed forced are collectively responsible (i.e. where the purported acts can be imputed to the command structure of the armed forces and thereby the State itself) for war crimes and other serious crimes purportedly committed during the last phase of the war.

To the best of our knowledge, the only Report especially one with the imprimatur of the UN or any of its subsidiary organs to level the above allegation is the OISL Report (OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka), released to the public on 16th September 2015.

The Government of Sri Lanka by note verbale UN/HR/1/30 dated 15th September 2015 endorsed and accepted without reservation the conclusions and recommendations of the said Report. In a one-and-half-page response (it should be noted that the OISL Report is a 260-page document) the GOSL said inter alia:

―Takes note of the Report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), recognizes fully that this Report represents a human rights investigation and not a criminal investigation, and will ensure that its contents as well as recommendations receive due attention of the relevant authorities including the new mechanisms that are envisaged to be set up‖ (Note Verbale Ref. UN/HR/1/30)

Meanwhile, on 29th September 2015, the GOSL co-sponsored UNHRC resolution A/HRC/30/L.29, which again endorsed without reservation the conclusions and recommendations of the OISL Report. The said resolution was subsequently adopted unanimously by the Council.

On the above occasion, Sri Lanka‘s Permanent Representative to the UNHRC stated inter alia:

You have all seen our written response

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