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HRW pushes UN for independent investigation of Sri Lanka rights abuses

Lawyers for Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Tuesday that they have sent a letter [text] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] calling for an independent investigation of Sri Lanka's compliance with its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) [JURIST news archive]. In a press release [official statement] announcing the letter, HRW claims that despite assurances by Sri Lanka that they are diligently investigating claims of rights abuses during the 26-year civil war it fought with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder], there has been little evidence to confirm that claim. HRW would like the UNHRC to consider launching its own investigation into rights abuses and efforts made by the nation to address them when the rights organization meets next month. According to the the author of the letter, Asia Director at HRW, Brad Adams:

Over the past year the Sri Lankan government has alternated between threatening activists who seek justice and making small, cynical gestures to keep the international community at bay. The Human Rights Council should dismiss these tactics, end the delays and authorize an independent, international investigation into the estimated 40,000 civilian deaths at the conflict's end.
HRW claims that the state of human rights in Sri Lanka have deteriorated since the last time the UNHRC met in March 2012 and that democracy itself is in danger without international intervention.

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. Earlier this month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] criticized [JURIST report] Sri Lanka's failure to investigate abuses adequately. Last July HRW urged Sri Lanka to stop arresting journalists who criticized the government [JURIST report]. In November 2011 the Sri Lankan government was subjected to criticism for its failure to investigate [JURIST report] issues of torture for past human rights violations and to enforce laws against continued torture and ill-treatment by government officials against civilians. In April 2011 a UN panel of experts on Sri Lanka found credible allegations of war crimes [JURIST report] committed during the country's war with the LTTE, warranting further investigation. In June 2010 Pillay called for an international inquiry [JURIST report] into the conduct of the Sri Lankan government during its civil war.

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