UN human rights chief renews her call for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s war

Apr 26, Geneva: Welcoming the public release of the report by the United Nations Secretary-Generals Panel of Experts on the Sri Lanka’s accountability during the last phase of the armed conflict , the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today called for further international investigation on the alleged war crimes.

Pillay has accused the Sri Lankan government of conducting a war under the guise of fighting terrorism and killing thousands of civilians.

“The way this conflict was conducted, under the guise of fighting terrorism, challenged the very foundations of the rules of war and cost the lives of tens of thousands of civilians,” the High Commissioner has said.

“I hope the disturbing new information contained in this report will shock the conscience of the international community into finally taking serious action. As the report itself says, addressing violations of international humanitarian or human rights law is not a matter of choice or policy; it is a duty under domestic and international law,” she has said.

The High Commissioner added that the eyewitness accounts and credible information contained in the report demand a full, impartial, independent, and transparent investigation.

“Unless there is a sea-change in the Government’s response, which has so far been one of total denial and blanket impunity, a full-fledged international inquiry will clearly be needed,” she urged.

Sri Lanka has rejected the UN report saying that it is fundamentally flawed and based on patently biased material which is presented without any verification.

The High Commissioner has encouraged Human Rights Council members to reflect on the new information and findings contained in the report on Sri Lanka.

Pillay, came under severe criticism from friendly counties of Sri Lanka including India when she called for an inquiry into abuses in Sri Lanka’s civil war after such a move backed by the western countries failed to garner support at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2009.

She has also urged the Sri Lankan government to quickly carry out the measures suggested by the Panel to bring immediate relief to victims.

The Expert Panel as immediate measures suggested the Sri Lankan government to repeal the Emergency Regulations, modify provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act that are inconsistent with Sri Lanka’s internal obligations , publish all the names of current detainees, resolve outstanding disappearance cases, ensure due process for remaining LTTE detainees , and provide relief measures for victims and survivors of the conflict.

However, Pillay has said that in the longer term, justice will be essential if there is to be true reconciliation after “this terrible and divisive conflict.”

The High Commissioner has said that she remained very concerned for the protection of witnesses and civil society activists in Sri Lanka, including journalists, and urged the government to counter calls from certain elements for reprisals in light of the Panel’s report.

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