Today the world remembers and pays tribute to all victims of terrorism.
In Sri Lanka the Easter Sunday attacks two years ago, and many other terrorist attacks carried out by different groups over several decades, have caused lasting damage to individuals, families, and communities. The United Nations in Sri Lanka stands with those who grieve and those who continue to endure the physical and psychological consequences of terrorism.
Victims of terrorism and their families need focused and dedicated mechanisms to ensure that their rights as individuals are upheld and protected. We need to address their needs and provide them with justice, reparations and medical and psychosocial support when required.
Terrorism and violent extremism require robust law-and-order responses to investigate and combat terrorist organizations and address key operational challenges in relation to their funding, training, arming, etc. But law-and-order is only one part of the picture. If we don’t address the dynamics that lead individuals to join a terrorist organization, we may defuse the threat today, only to see it reignited tomorrow. Preventing conflict and human rights violations is an intrinsic part of combating terrorism, not only avoiding the pernicious effects of a terrorist attack, but also preventing the equally perverse effects of stigmatizing communities, infringing on fundamental rights, or exploring shortcuts to judicial redress.
We need to work towards improved outcomes for victims, while putting in place prevention strategies that defuse future threats, while fully respecting the rule of law and rights of accused persons. Counter-terrorism efforts must follow due process, principles of fundamental justice and fairness.
The UN supports Sri Lanka’s counter-terrorism efforts through capacity building to different stakeholders, justice sector reform and advocacy for legislation that adheres to international best practices.
Let us all come together to renew our commitment to protect and promote the rights and needs of victims of terrorism and of all those looking for justice for heinous crimes, to work towards building more cohesive and stronger societies.
UN Resident Coordinator
21 August 2021