UN Sri Lanka resolution does not include war crimes investigation

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council [official website] adopted a resolution [text, DOC] Wednesday "welcoming the conclusion of hostilities" in Sri Lanka, but failing to call for an investigation into war crimes committed during the conflict. Adopted during the 11th special session on human rights [materials], the resolution condemned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive] attacks on civilian populations and use of human shields, and acknowledged the Sri Lankan government's commitment to "provide access as may be appropriate to international humanitarian agencies." The resolution did not address allegations [press release] made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] and others that war crimes may have been committed by both sides of the 25-year civil war [BBC timeline], which resulted in more than 70,000 deaths. Sri Lankan Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka [official profile] said [press release] that the was "no rationale for this Special Session with a regular session just a few days away" except to appease those countries and commissioners who had accused the government of war crimes.

The international community has expressed concerns about human rights violations during and after the Sri Lankan conflict. On Saturday, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] released a joint statement [text] granting humanitarian groups access to aid internally displaced persons, which Rajapaksa rejected [JURIST report] on Sunday. Last week, the Council of the European Union [official website] called for an independent inquiry [conclusions, PDF; JURIST report] into possible war crimes committed during fighting between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE. In March, the Sri Lankan Government denied [JURIST report] Pillay's allegation that 2,800 civilian deaths caused by recent military action against the LTTE may constitute war crimes. In February, 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.



 

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