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The Promise of the LLRC: Women’s Testimony & Justice in Post War Sri Lanka

Research Papers

The Promise of the LLRC: Women’s Testimony & Justice in Post War Sri Lanka

ICES Research Paper No. 4

This essay considers the issue of post-war justice in Sri Lanka through a discussion of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), and the testimonies of the women who came before it. Drawing on Amartya Sen’s Idea of Justice (2009), it contextualises the LLRC, which was established in May 2010 to look into the causes of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict and recommend measures of restitution to victims of war as well as institutional and administrative reform to prevent further violence, within two dominant schools of thought on justice. These two schools – the transcendental and realisable – have shaped the discourse and debates on the LLRC and the implementation of its recommendations, as well as the wider issues of accountability and restorative justice in the aftermath of war. Examining the LLRC’s evidentiary promise to women survivors of war who went before the Commission, the essay looks at the conditions which shaped their testimony, their narrative registers, the women’s ideas on justice and the cultural resources they fall back on to elicit justice. In doing so the essay interrogates the relationality of transcendental and realisable justice itself, even as it offers a gendering of post-war justice in contemporary Sri Lanka

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