[JURIST] The UN announced on Tuesday the completion of a report on allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka, but Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] said the report would not be released until President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] has time to review it. This has prompted criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI), which demanded the report be made public [HRW press release; AI press release]. The report, based on the work of a three-member panel, evaluated [UN News Centre report] “the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience with regard to accountability processes.” Earlier this week, Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa [official website] stated that the government was not concerned with the report [Sunday Observer report]. The Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs [official website] announced in October that a UN war crimes panel would be allowed to visit [JURIST report] the island to look into the final stages of the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [JURIST news archive].
A recent HRW report criticized the UN, the Human Rights Council and Ban for failing to adequately enforce human rights. The UN defended against these allegations [JURIST report] in January. The report specifically mentioned Ban’s reluctance to put pressure on abusive governments, and substituting dialogue and cooperation for public pressure to promote human rights. HRW’s report highlighted the UN’s deference toward atrocities in Sri Lanka [JURIST report] as an example of the UN’s human rights shortcomings. Sri Lanka faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of its 30-year civil war. Last May, HRW announced it had acquired new evidence [JURIST report] supporting allegations of war crimes. Although Ban affirmed his commitment to set up a UN panel investigating the human rights violations in Sri Lanka, HRW was dissatisfied with the UN’s response.