UN Expert Panel report on Sri Lanka leaked to local media

Apr 16, Colombo: The report of the Panel of Experts appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to investigate accountability issues during the later stages of the Sri Lanka’s war against Tamil Tiger terrorists has been leaked to the local media before it is being officially made public.

Sri Lankan daily, The Island, today published a large portion of the report handed over to the UN Chief Ban Ki-moon on April 12 by the three-member panel. The UN has shared a copy with the Sri Lankan government before it is to be made public.

Reportedly the UN has expressed regret that “parts of the report found its way prematurely to a Sri Lankan newspaper.”

The UN has said that they were waiting to release the full report next week along with the Sri Lankan government’s response.

The Panel was appointed by the UN chief last May to investigate allegations of violating humanitarian law by the government security forces and the rebels during the successful military offensive in 2009 that completely eliminated the terrorist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), from Sri Lanka.

Excerpts from the report published in The Island say in contrast to what the government said, the Panel found credible allegations, “which if proven, indicate that a wide range of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law were committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The report alleges that the Sri Lankan government systematically shelled hospitals on the frontlines and shelled on a large scale in three consecutive No Fire Zones, where it had encouraged the civilian population to concentrate, even after indicating that it would cease the use of heavy weapons.

It also accuses the LTTE of refusing civilians permission to leave and using them as hostages to form a human buffer between themselves and the advancing Sri Lanka Army.

“Many civilians were sacrificed on the altar of the LTTE cause and its efforts to preserve its senior leadership,” the Panel’s report says.

The report also severely criticizes the Sri Lankan government-appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to probe the events during the last seven years of war.

“The LLRC is deeply flawed, does not meet International standards for an effective accountability mechanism and, therefore, does not and cannot satisfy the joint commitment of the President of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General to an accountability process,” the Panel has concluded.

The Panel of Experts recommends the Secretary-General to “immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism” that is mandated by several functions defined by the Panel.

In light of their report, the Panel calls for the Human rights Council to reconsider its May 2009 Special Session Resolution (A/HRC/S-11/l.1/Rev.2) regarding Sri Lanka, where a majority of the 47 countries in the Council backed Sri Lanka and defeated the resolution submitted by Germany demanding a probe into alleged war crimes.

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