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Sri Lanka rejects UN panel investigating possible civil war rights abuses

The Sri Lankan government on Wednesday strongly rejected [press release] the appointment of a UN panel [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of human rights abuses during the last months of the Sri Lankan civil war [JURIST news archive]. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] announced the formation of the panel [press release] on Tuesday in order to investigate alleged wartime abuses of civilians by both the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive]. The government cited an internal commission appointed last month [press release] as sufficient to deal with reconciliation issues within Sri Lanka. It also emphasized the country's sovereignty and "robustly independent judiciary" as an adequate system for the administration of justice. The government indicated it viewed the UN panel as "an unwarranted and unnecessary interference," and warned of the possibility of exploitation of the reconciliation process within the country. The government also firmly denied agreeing to the implementation of the human rights accountability statement [text] that both Ban and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] reportedly agreed to last May, but which Rajapaksa subsequently rejected [JURIST report].

Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of the civil war. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] announced it had acquired new evidence [JURIST report] supporting allegations of war crimes. Also last month, the International Crisis Group (ICG) [official website] accused Sri Lankan security forces of war crimes [JURIST report], claiming that the violence of the 30-year civil war escalated in January 2009, leaving thousands more dead than projected by the UN. In March, Ban reaffirmed his plan to set up a UN panel [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of human rights violations during the civil war. Earlier in March, Rajapaksa rejected [JURIST report] Ban's plan to appoint a panel of experts to look into alleged rights abuses in the island nation's civil war, saying it "is totally uncalled for and unwarranted."

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