UN rights chief criticizes Sri Lanka failure to investigate abuses

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] unveiled a report [text, PDF] Wednesday criticizing Sri Lanka for failing to investigate widespread reports of killings and other atrocities during the latter days of the nation's 26-year civil war it fought with the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder]. The report claims that the government has not followed through on the mandates the government's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) [JURIST news archive] established for itself to thoroughly investigate claims of civilians killed by pro-government forces during the conflict. According to the report, though the LLRC was limited:

[It] nonetheless made significant and far-reaching recommendations for reconciliation and strengthening the rule of law. This was widely heralded by prominent community figures, religious leaders and civil society in Sri Lanka eager to join hands in a genuinely consultative and inclusive reconciliation process. ... Unfortunately, however, the Government has made commitments to only some of the Commission's recommendations, and has not adequately engaged civil society to support this process. The steps taken by the Government to investigate allegations of serious violations of human rights further have also been inconclusive, and lack the independence and impartiality required to inspire confidence.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] disputed the report [Reuters report] saying that his government has proceeded with carrying out the LLRC's recommendations and that it has continued to quickly respond to new claims of human rights abuses.

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. Last July Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged Sri Lanka to stop arresting journalists who criticized the government [JURIST report]. In May Rajapaksa pardoned [JURIST report] former Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. 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 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] called for an international inquiry [JURIST report] into the conduct of the Sri Lankan government during its civil war.

 

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