The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) is an international opinion tribunal, independent from any State authority. It examines cases regarding violations of human rights and the rights of peoples.
Promoted by the Lelio Basso International Foundation for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, the PPT was founded in June 1979, in Bologna, Italy, by a broad spectrum of legal experts, writers, and other cultural and community leaders (including five Nobel Prize laureates) from 31 countries. The PPT is rooted in the historical experiences of the Russell Tribunals on Vietnam (1966-67) and the dictatorships in Latin America (1974-1976). The importance and strength of decisions by the PPT rest on the moral weight of the causes and arguments to which they give credibility, as well as the integrity and capability to judge of the Tribunal members.
Complaints heard by the Tribunal are submitted by the victims, or by groups or individuals representing them. The PPT calls together all parties concerned and offers the defendants the possibility to make their own arguments heard. The Jury is selected for each case by combining members who belong to a permanent list of jurors, and individuals who are recognized for their competence and integrity.
From June 1979 to the present date the PPT has held some 40 sessions whose results and judgements are available at www.internazionaleleliobasso.it.
For this Session on Sri Lanka, the Secretariat of the PPT was first approached by representatives of a broad spectrum of NGOs, as early as July 2009. The government of Sri Lanka had declared the war over two months prior, following months of bloody massacre which had made headlines worldwide. The urgency of the matter was recognized. Additionally, the specific competence of the PPT was considered in response to the substantial disregard of the matter by international institutions which accompanied the “disappearance” of the massacre of the Tamils from the attention of the international media.
The documents supporting the request to convene a session of the PPT with the primary objective of focusing on “the last phase of the war, the period after the collapse of the peace process, and especially the last months” were received and accepted on November 19, 2009.
The notification of the procedures and the invitation to participate in the session of the PPT in Dublin were submitted to the representative of the Government of Sri Lanka in London, H.E. Justice Nihal Jayasinghe, on December 1, 2009.
According to the Statutes of the PPT, and as specified in the notification, in the absence of a positive response to the request for formal representation of their positions, the PPT mandated a rapporteur to present the views of the Government of Sri Lanka in the Public Session.
The work of the PPT took place in the facilities of Trinity College (c.f. program attached in Annex 1).
Due to security reasons, the members of the panel of the PPT heard the highly detailed eye-witness accounts of the events related to the last months of war, and to the concentration camps during, “in camera” sessions.
The PPT certifies that the resources which have covered the organizational and financial needs of the sessions correspond mainly to the voluntary work of the members of the NGOs supporting the initiative, and that no economic contribution has been derived from sources directly or indirectly related to Tamil organizations, nor to states involved in the events considered in this session.
The written and visual documentation presented and examined by the PPT aside from the oral hearings and cross-examinations, is listed in Annex II and available on the PPT and IFPSL websites. A new website - www.pptsrilanka.org - will make the findings and other relevant material available to the public in several languages.