The Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009 after twenty-six years of hostilities between the government and the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). During the final stage of the war, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated around 276.000 people had been displaced due to the conflict. In September 2015, Sri Lankan government announced a transitional justice plan to achieve a long-lasting reconciliation in the country, with the creation of four institutions: an Office of Missing Persons, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an Office for War Reparations, and a Special Court.
At present, the lack of implementation of this transitional plan constitutes a struggle for the Sri Lankan civil society, the victims and their families, who are pursuing truth and accountability with the assistance and support of international organisations.
Guernica has designed projects to support the transitional plan announced by the Sri Lankan government, and from 2015 to 2017, we have maintained constant contact with organizations in the country that have requested international assistance from legal and forensic professionals to bring their experience in comparative transitional justice methods to the Sri Lankan context.
This support follows a four-fold strategy. First, in this transitional justice process, we seek to provide legal and technical assistance to conduct investigations on international crimes committed in different parts of the country and against different social groups. Through this process of investigations as well as through theoretical formative sessions, we aim to train young Sri Lankan professionals, who could then replicate these investigations in other areas of the country, thus building local capacity and generating local ownership for the transitional process. These investigations will also allow the establishment of global networks to empower and coordinate Sri Lankan civil society and victims, so they can exchange their experiences and direct their voices into the international arena. Finally, this strategy should also be complemented by actions of transnational litigation in different jurisdictions to outflank impunity and lift the aura of invincibility of perpetrators of international crimes in Sri Lanka, irrespective of their nationality or residence.