Following a decision of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka last week ordering top former authorities, including former president Mathripala Sirisena, to compensate the victims of the Easter Sunday Attack in 2019, spokesperson Jeremy Laurence of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged the Sri Lankan government to provide full compensation to all victims, establish an independent investigation to hold responsible persons to account, and release complete findings of previous inquiries into the attack.
Laurence stressed that while the Sri Lankan government should ensure victims would be receiving adequate compensation, justice for victims could only be attained through “truth, justice and reparation.” He added that victims and their representatives should fully engage in the follow-up independent investigation with the aid of international assistance in order to hold all responsible persons to account.
Following the attack, several petitioners took action and sought remedies against relevant authorities for their inaction, alleging that they violated the petitioners’ fundamental rights under Article 126 of the Constitution, owing to the “reckless failure” of the executive branch which failed to take cognizance and accord due priority to information received regarding the premeditation of the attack which could have prevented the tragedy.
The Sri Lankan top court ruled that it could not escape an “irresistible conclusion” that there was an absence of evidence of any consequential counter-measures taken to prevent the attack. As per material evidence, several authorities knew of the “specificity, exactitude and clarity of the likely attackers, modes of attack and their targets” but failed to proactively take action. The court condemned the relevant departments’ inaction as a “conspicuous failure” despite having ample opportunities to act accordingly.
The court ordered an establishment of a Victim Fund at the Office of Reparation to distribute and keep track of the ordered sum paid by top authorities, including the former President, the former secretary, and the State, etc. to compensate the victims in a “fair and equitable manner.”