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Asia-pacific

Rights group calls for UN inquiry into Sri Lanka's defeat of Tamils

Video by Josh Vardey

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-26

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged the UN to investigate possible human rights abuses committed by Sri Lanka during its 2009 defeat of Tamil separatists after a UN report Monday found "credible allegations" of violations of international law.

AFP - A leading human rights group on Tuesday challenged UN chief Ban Ki-moon to push forward with an international investigation into possible war crimes by the Sri Lankan government.

The UN Secretary General had said Monday that he lacked the authority to order such an inquiry, as recommended by a UN panel probing allegations of war crimes during Sri Lanka's final offensive against Tamil separatists in 2009.

Ban insisted an international probe would require Sri Lanka's agreement or the mandate of an "appropriate" intergovernmental forum. Officials said this could be the UN Human Rights Council or the UN Security Council.

But New York-based Human Rights Watch warned Ban against placing "unnecessary obstacles" to establishing a proper justice mechanism that would hold the Sri Lankan government accountable.

"The UN panel's findings... show the need for an international investigation," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Adams also called on Russia and China to "stop blocking efforts" to secure justice for the victims of Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict.

In its report published Monday, the UN panel of experts found "credible allegations" of violations of international law by government forces and the Tamil rebels that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It highlighted evidence that the Sri Lankan army killed tens of thousands of civilians in its ultimately successful last assault on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE).

The panel also recommended that Ban set up an "independent international mechanism" to investigate the allegations.

The Sri Lankan government, which had opposed the establishment of the UN panel in the first place, would almost certainly never agree to an international probe.

It also feels it can rely on Russia and China to see off any attempt to establish such an inquiry through the UN Human Rights Council or the UN Security Council.

The panel's report was leaked last week in the Sri Lankan media and the government was swift to dismiss its findings as "fundamentally flawed" and biased.

Adams said the government reaction made it clear that there was "no chance" of a genuine domestic investigation into the handling of the final offensive against the Tamil rebels.

"The only hope for victims of the conflict is an international investigation leading to prosecutions. Ban should lose no time in setting one up," Adams said.

 

The Channel 4 video

 

Date created : 2011-04-26

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