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UN delays release of report investigating war crimes in Sri Lanka

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] on Monday delayed [press release] the release of a report investigating alleged war crimes committed during Sri Lanka's civil war [BBC backgrounder]. The government had requested that the release of the report be postponed on the grounds that President Maithripala Sirisena [official website] was about to launch [JURIST report] his own inquiry into these allegations. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] applauded the country's willingness to open itself to worldwide scrutiny, saying he had "received clear commitments from the new Government of Sri Lanka indicating it is prepared to cooperate with my Office on a whole range of important human rights issues - which the previous Government had absolutely refused to do - and I need to engage with them to ensure those commitments translate into reality." Al Hussein stressed that this postponement is a one time occurrence, and guaranteed that the report would be released by September. The UNHRC had voted [JURIST report] to launch an investigation into alleged human rights violations during Sri Lanka's civil war in March of last year.

Sri Lanka has been under pressure regarding human rights on other occasions as well. In February Amnesty International urged Sri Lanka's new government to prioritize human rights [JURIST report], concerned that the old government had left "pressing issues" involving human rights violations for the new administration. In November Al Hussein criticized [JURIST report] the Sri Lankan government for its continued attacks on the integrity of the current investigation into the human rights violations. In June 2014 then High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed deep alarm [JURIST report] over inter-communal violence occurring in Sri Lanka between Buddhists and Muslims. In April 2014 Sri Lanka's foreign minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris announced [JURIST report] that Sri Lanka would not cooperate with the UN investigation into war crimes.

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