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UN Rights chief renews call for Sri Lanka war-crimes probe
TamilNet 02 June 2010 Print ArticleE-mail ArticleFeedback On Article

The United Nations human rights chief, Navaneetham Pillay on 31 May reiterated her call for an "independent international probe" into Sri Lanka Government's final offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during the final months of the war in 2009.


While noting the appointment of "post-war reconciliation commission" by Colombo, Navi Pillay said, "based on previous experience and new information, I remain convinced that such objectives [looking into alleged human rights violations, and provide justice to victims] would be better served by establishing an independent international accountability mechanism that would enjoy public confidence, both in Sri Lanka and elsewhere," AFP reported.


Pillay assessed that some progress has been made since the end of the conflict in the return and resettlement of displaced people, according to AFP.


"Concrete initiatives must now follow to provide justice and redress to victims and generally to promote accountability and longer-term reconciliation," AFP quoted Navi Pillay as saying.


"Yet another feckless commission is a grossly inadequate response to the numerous credible allegations of war crimes," said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch.


"Damning new evidence of abuses shows why the UN should not let Sri Lanka sweep these abuses under the carpet," added Pearson in an HRW media release.


The commission is to be headed by former attorney general Chitta Ranjan de Silva, and includes two Tamil members.


"De Silva was the architect and enforcer of the attorney general's conflict of interest role with respect to the 2006 commission," said Arthur Dewey, former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and member of the IIGEP [International Independent Group of Eminent Persons].


"Nothing good for human rights or reconciliation is likely to come from anything in which De Silva is involved," said HRW report quoting Dewey.


“Evidence gathered by Crisis Group provides reasonable grounds to believe that during these months [the security forces intentionally and repeatedly shelled civilians, hospitals and humanitarian operations,” New York Times said quoting from the text of the ICG report, and added that “[i]t [the report] also provides reason to believe that senior government and military officials were aware of the massive civilian casualties due to the security forces’ attacks, but failed to protect the civilian population as they were obliged to under the laws of war.”


State run Daily News listed the objectives of the Colombo appointed Commission as follows:

i. the facts and circumstances which led to the failure of the Ceasefire Agreement operationalized on February 21, 2002 and the sequence of events that followed thereafter up to May 19, 2009;


ii. whether any person, group, or institution directly or indirectly bear responsibility in this regard;


iii. the lessons we would learn from those events and their attendant concerns, in order to ensure that there will be no recurrence;


iv. the methodology whereby restitution to any person affected by those events or their dependents or to heirs, can be effected;


v. the institutional administrative and legislative measures which need to be taken in order to prevent any recurrence of such concerns in the future, and to promote further national unity and reconciliation among all communities, and to make any such other


"The text describing the mandate of the commission reflects the farcity of the exercise. The language avoids any mention of "human rights violations," leave alone the mention of "war crimes," and many reputable NGOs have dismissed the Commission as a "sham." However, some members of the civilized world have given cautious acceptance, and this would buy some time to the rogue state that wants the world to forget the massacres in Vanni. We hope that the Commissioner takes steps to follow up on her call and thereby add credibility to Kofi Annan's statement in NYT that "in the face of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, the default position of the international community is no longer impunity but accountability,"" said a spokesperson for the US-based activist group, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG).


A former UN spokesperson in Colombo, who was later evicted by Colombo, estimated that close to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by the Sri Lanka military during the final five months of the war. United Nations officials, despite having evidence, satellite images and on the ground casualty figures, concealed the details from outside world.

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