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Sri Lanka rights violations should be probed by international commission: HRW

[JURIST] An international commission should be set up [press release] to investigate human rights abuses that allegedly occurred during the 25-year civil war between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archives], Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Wednesday. Earlier this week, a Sri Lankan government official announced Tuesday that an internal investigation [JURIST report] into human rights abuses during the conflict had ended. Deputy Asia director at HRW Elaine Pearson said "Sri Lanka's presidential commission of inquiry started with a bang and ended with a whimper. The need for an international inquiry into abuses by both sides is greater than ever." Peason added, "It's now up to concerned governments to step in and ensure that justice is done for the victims of abuses in Sri Lanka's long war." HRW alleges that there have been tens of thousands of killings and disappearances, resulting in relatively few prosecutions.

The announcement that the internal investigation had ended came just days after Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged [press release; JURIST report] the Sri Lankan government to conduct a more serious inquiry into possible human rights abuse cases, including the killing of 17 aid workers. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] recently asked [transcript; JURIST report] Sri Lanka's government to conduct a "proper investigation" of any "credible allegations of violations of humanitarian law" arising from the recent conflict between the government and the LTTE. Last month, 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] allegations by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] that 2,800 civilian deaths caused by recent military action against the LTTE may constitute war crimes.

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