UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Friday called on the Sri Lankan government [press release] to improve conditions around the body's offices in Columbo, following several days of protests [JURIST report] by pro-government demonstrators. The protesters have been demanding the UN end plans to have an international panel [JURIST report] investigate allegations of human rights abuses during the last months of the Sri Lankan civil war [JURIST news archive]. In his statement, Ban extolled the virtues of the panel, including the promotion and protection of human rights in Sri Lanka, and called for a normalization of conditions so the UN can continue its work in the nation. The panel, tasked with investigating alleged wartime abuses of civilians by both the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive], has been rejected by the Sri Lankan government, which indicated that the panel will not be granted visas [JURIST reports] to allow its members to enter the country. Earlier this week, Ban recalled his envoy [UPI report] from the country because of the protests.
Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of its 30-year civil war. In May, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] announced it had acquired new evidence [JURIST report] supporting allegations of war crimes. Also in May, the International Crisis Group [official website] accused Sri Lankan security forces of war crimes [JURIST report], claiming that the violence of the 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.