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UN rights chief warns Sri Lanka against retribution following controversial resolution

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] expressed concern Friday over the harassment of Sri Lankan rights activists [press release] following the adoption of a UN resolution [JURIST report] regarding the investigation of war crimes committed during the country's recent conflict with its separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. The UN Human Rights Council [official website] adopted the resolution on Thursday urging Sri Lanka to probe war crimes, to implement the recommendations of a domestic inquiry into the war [report, PDF] and to seek UN help for reconciliation efforts with its minority ethnic Tamil community. The resolution, which was sponsored by the US and supported by India, was then rejected by Sri Lanka [AFP report] amid significant criticism from the Sri Lankan media, including news reports showing the names and faces of activists. Regardless of the rejection, Pillay called for an end to activist vilification and warned that threats of violence against activists must cease. The anger over the passage of the resolution follows weeks of anti-US and pro-government demonstrations in the nation's capital city of Colombo.

The Sri Lankan government has faced various allegations of human rights violations and war crimes by civil rights organizations and the UN since the end of its civil war in 2009. A report released earlier this month detailed how current government policies may make it difficult to maintain peace [JURIST report] with minority groups. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report the same week [JURIST report] alleging unlawful detentions and torture. In November, the Sri Lankan government was subjected to criticism [JURIST report] for its failure to investigate issues of torture and past human rights violations, and its failure to enforce laws against continued torture and ill-treatment by government officials against civilians. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] in September sent a report to the UNHRC accusing Sri Lankan troops of killing tens of thousands of civilians [JURIST report] during clashes with the LTTE.

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