Right group accuses Sri Lanka of whitewashing military abuses

Aug 02, Colombo: The New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch has accused the Sri Lankan government of whitewashing military abuses during the final stage of the war between the government forces and Tamil Tiger terrorists ended in May 2009.

Issuing a statement the HRW said the new Defence Ministry report released Monday acknowledges for the first time that government forces caused civilian deaths in the final months of the conflict but takes no responsibility for alleged violations of humanitarian laws.

The Defence Ministry yesterday released a 161-page report titled “Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis”, that provided a detailed analysis of the terrorist outfit and an overview of the consequences of the Humanitarian Operation that eliminated the organization in Sri Lanka.

In the report the Sri Lankan government has admitted that in a operation of such magnitude, it was impossible to avoid civilian casualties but reiterated that it did not deliberately targeted civilians as the Western world accuses and stressed that the military adhered to a “zero civilian casualties policy”.

“The Sri Lankan government is finally admitting that its forces caused civilians losses during the conflict’s final months, but unconvincingly claims no responsibility, said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“This is just the latest and glossiest effort to whitewash mounting evidence of government atrocities during the fighting,” the HRW, an organization accused of being biased against the Sri Lankan government, said.

The HRW said the report does not provide adequate information on investigations by the Sri Lankan government into alleged war crimes by its forces.

Violations of the laws of war by the Tamil Tigers did not justify abuses by government security forces, Human Rights Watch said and reiterated its call for an independent international investigation into violations of the laws of war by both sides to the conflict.

“The Sri Lankan Defense Ministry report is yet another feeble attempt to convince the world, despite growing evidence to the contrary, that government forces committed no crimes in the conflict with the Tamil Tigers, Adams said adding that concerned governments should use the” factually challenged” report to jump-start international accountability efforts as the UN Panel of Experts recommended.

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