Participation in Oxford Panel Discussion: Prospects for Meaningful Accountability for Rights Violations in Sri Lanka

A delegate from the Max Planck Foundation attended an Oxford Panel Discussion on Prospects for Meaningful Accountability for Rights Violations in Sri Lanka.

The event was organised as part of the Oxford Transitional Justice Research Seminar Series and held at the Oxford Law Faculty in the United Kingdom on Monday 18 February 2019.

The discussion explored issues of accountability in Sri Lanka, with a particular emphasis on institutional responses to rights abuses, such as violence against religious minorities, torture, and enforced disappearances. Members of the panel examined responses of civil society and survivor groups to the long-term absence of accountability for past crimes against particular communities, in addition to institutions’ responses when faced with calls for accountability. Finally, there was a discussion on legislative and policy reforms in Sri Lanka which provide some hope for increasing space in Sri Lanka for accountability.

The panel discussion served as a small forum to bring practitioners and academics together to reflect on roadblocks and prospects for accountability for rights violations in Sri Lanka. Members of the audience came from varied backgrounds, including a former Commissioner from the Commission for the Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor.

Speakers on the panel included Dr Kiran Grewal from Goldsmiths, University of London; Dr Farzana Haniffa from University of Cambridge and University of Colombo; Gehan Gunatilleke from the University of Oxford; and Dharsha Jegatheeswaran from the London School of Economics, who additionally serves as Research Director for the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research, based in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Speakers presented reflections on rights violations in Sri Lanka and aspects of their experience pursuing accountability. The presentations were followed by a panel debate and a question and answer session.