The three decade long civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009 and Sri Lanka continues to be an ethnically polarised country. The political roots of the ethnic conflict which gave rise to the three decades of civil war continue to remain largely unaddressed. In addition, Sri Lanka has to cope with addressing the aftermath of the war and the large scale human rights violations that took place during the war, which were perpetrated by all parties. These violations intensified in gravity and number towards the end of the conflict. The complex situation was compounded by two other armed insurgencies in the south by a Marxist movement in the late 70s and early 80s, which were violently suppressed. Thus, all ethnicities and religions and multiple generations in Sri Lanka have all been affected by the long and multi-faceted conflict and an inclusive reconciliation process, that includes the voices of all Sri Lankans, is imperative to ensure that a positive and lasting peace is sustained.
The war has taken its toll on the criminal justice system and the rule of law in general in Sri Lanka and there are many institutional and legal challenges to the effective administration of criminal justice. LAW will provide technical support to criminal justice institutions, including the Attorney-General’s Department, the Sri Lanka Judge’s Institute, the Judicial Services Commission and the Government Analysts’ Unit in areas that they self-identify as requiring support. LAW aims to raise the profile of transitional justice amongst law students, and to provide them with opportunities to engage effectively in the process as it moves forwards. LAW will provide the departments of Colombo, Peradiniya and Jaffna with legal information in relation to transitional justice and will assist Jaffna University with the establishment of a human rights clinic. LAW Sri Lanka works in partnership with a local grassroots organisation, the National Peace Council and an international partner, Harvard International Human Rights Clinic.