Sri Lanka rejects UN war crimes allegations

[JURIST] The Sri Lankan government [official website; JURIST news archive] Saturday denied allegations [press release] by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] that recent Sri Lankan military action [BBC backgrounder] against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [group website; JURIST news archive] has caused some 2,800 civilian deaths and may constitute war crimes. Pillay on Friday cited "credible sources" for the stated number of civilian deaths and said, "certain actions being undertaken by the Sri Lankan military and by the LTTE may constitute violations of international human rights and humanitarian law." Sri Lankan Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarsinghe [official profile] said the numbers were unconfirmed [Reuters report] and expressed dismay that Pillay was relying on numbers corresponding to those on the website TamilNet [advocacy website], which is maintained by the LTTE. The Sri Lankan government has also refused to hold cease-fire negotiations with the LTTE [AP report], as it believes it is close to ending the country's 25 year civil war [BBC timeline] that has resulted in over 70,000 deaths.

Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] alleging that both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE are guilty of human rights violations. Earlier this year, Pillay condemned [press release; JURIST report] the deteriorating conditions of those trapped in the Vanni region, and called for investigations and prosecutions for the killings and other human rights abuses. HRW has repeatedly accused both sides of violations, and since 2007 has also criticized the government's de facto internment centers and its role in the increase in unlawful killings and other human rights violations [JURIST reports].

 

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