[JURIST] The Council of the European Union [official website] on Monday called for an independent inquiry [conclusions, PDF] into possible war crimes committed during the Sri Lanka [JURIST news archive] civil war. Meeting in Brussels, the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) [official profile] said that it was "appalled by the loss of innocent lives as a result of the conflict and by the high numbers of casualties, including children" and urged both the Sri Lankan Government [official website] and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive] to "fully respect their obligations under international … law." Describing the LTTE as a "terrorist organisation," the Council called on them to lay down their arms and renounce violence "once and for all," while cautioning the Government "that fighting terrorism must be done in full respect for the rule of law and Human Rights." Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [personal website] declared victory [BBC report] in the country's 26-year civil war which has resulted in over 70,000 deaths after LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran [BBC obituary] was found dead on Monday.
In March, the Sri Lankan Government denied allegations [JURIST report] by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] that 2,800 civilian deaths caused by recent military action against the LTTE may constitute war crimes. In February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] alleging that both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE are guilty of human rights violations. Earlier this year, Pillay condemned [press release; JURIST report] the deteriorating conditions of those trapped in the Vanni region, and called for investigations and prosecutions for the killings and other human rights abuses. HRW has repeatedly accused both sides of violations, and since 2007 has also criticized the government's de facto internment centers and its role in the increase in unlawful killings and other human rights violations [JURIST reports].