Saturday, May 29, 2010

A war crime still left untouched by UN
Clinton presses Sri Lanka on rights panel
Fri May 28, 2010
(Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Sri Lanka Friday to ensure a new panel investigating possible rights abuses be given powers to probe any allegations of war crimes during its long civil conflict.

Civil rights groups have said the Sri Lankan government should be investigated for potential war crimes at the end of the war a year ago against separatist Tamil guerrillas. Colombo has denied the allegations and rejected charges that tens of thousands of civilians died.

Sri Lanka has a long history of inquiries into rights abuses that have largely failed to hold anyone accountable, and analysts say the new committee appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa does not have the statutory powers of a commission of inquiry and is acting only as an advisory body.
Sri Lanka is under heavy Western pressure over its human rights record, pressure the government blames on members of the Tamil diaspora who have settled in European countries or the United States and are angry the LTTE were beaten.

Peiris said the commission had been given adequate finances to begin its work and repeated that it was too early for the United Nations to set up its own panel as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has vowed to do.

"If we feel there is a need for support, then we will certainly be happy engage in a dialogue with the United Nations," Peiris said.

Sri Lankan government has formed nine ad hoc commissions of inquiry to investigate enforced disappearances and a number of other human rights-related inquiries. These commissions of inquiry have lacked credibility and have delayed criminal investigations.

Anybody who watched the SL President’s interview on Al Jazeera, could see the cavalier attitude about humane issues by the President and his intention to continue with the authoritarian, dynastic rule.

He has quickly become one of the worst human abusers in the history of mankind.
Tamil citizens are not protected by their government and continue to suffer under worst enforced atrocities, under constant authoritarian rule, lawlessness, and under constant oppression. U.N must step in as it has the obligation to protect these people by invoking the R2P (Responsibility to Protect the Global Citizens, this is a Canadian doctrine adopted by UN in 2005) U.N adopted Humanitarian Intervention to save these global citizens (in this case Tamils) who are facing extermination by their governments. Even after the War ended a year ago, still enforced abductions, disappearances, and random killing against Tamils are widely taking place in north and east and other parts of Sri Lanka.

U.S. supports Sri Lankan truth panel
B. Muralidhar Reddy

The United States has expressed the hope that the Reconciliation Commission established by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to study events from 2002 till the military defeat of the LTTE would be given broad enough mandate to follow the trail of any evidence.

At a meeting with the island nation's Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris on Friday in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country supported the creation of the Commission and added that experience in other countries had shown that such commissions had credibility and legitimacy within the country and had a valuable role in advancing accountability.

She was responding to a question at a news conference along with Mr. Peiris on concerns expressed by groups like the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the mandate of the Commission was narrow and might not cover the alleged violation of human rights in the last phase of Eelam War IV.

Ms. Clinton acknowledged that there has been tremendous progress in re-settlement of the nearly three lakh Tamil civilians and that many thousands of such internally displaced persons have returned home.

A statement by the Sri Lankan mission in Washington released here said that during the meeting, Mr. Peiris told Ms. Clinton that Sri Lanka hoped to resettle the remaining 45,000 displaced people within the next three months.

“It is not a question of just resettling people physically,” he said. “We want to ensure a restoration of livelihoods so that they're able to live their lives with dignity without bitterness or rancour. That's very essential.”

Mr. Peiris is on a five-day tour of the U.S. and in the course of his visit to New York three days ago had met U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and argued against a proposal by the U.N. chief to constitute a committee of experts to advice him on matters
related to Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Survivors of War in Sri Lanka Deserve Justice and a UN mandated independent investigation

Survivors of War in Sri Lanka Deserve Justice and a UN mandated independent
It has been a year since the Sri Lankan government declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in a conflict where massive violations were committed by both sides.
The scale and nature of atrocities escalated in the last stages of the military assault between January and May 2009. Witnesses say, many thousands of civilians died, caught between the warring parties.

The Sri Lankan government’s armed forces and the LTTE completely disregarded protecting civilians through their appalling military actions. This is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law that prohibits indiscriminate or targeted attacks on civilians and hostage taking.

UN Silence

But where is the outrage? Why is the UN Security Council (UNSC) silent?

Countries like Russia and China have argued that there was no threat to international peace and security since the conflict was contained within Sri Lanka’s borders. But such gross violations of international humanitarian law impact us all if countries are allowed to get away with it. Today it is Sri Lanka. Tomorrow it could be another country and then another and then another.

UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon, tried to discuss the situation with the Sri Lankan President directly. But his actions to ensure accountability in Sri Lanka as elsewhere remain very weak and fall short of pushing for an international inquiry that is so clearly needed.

The survivors of the conflict have no closure. In Sri Lanka, they have been offered no recourse to justice, truth and reparations.

It is only international pressure in the form of a UN mandated independent investigation that will ensure that states like Sri Lanka are not allowed to hide from the crimes they commit inside their borders.

Join Amnesty International’s campaign to ‘Make International Justice Real’ which will be launched on May 18th, 2010. For further information on the crisis in Sri Lanka click here.

17 May 2010
Call on UN to investigate Sri Lanka rights violations
One year after the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, thousands of victims of human rights violations committed by both government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are being denied justice, truth and reparations.

The complete failure of the Sri Lankan government to genuinely address this impunity means that the United Nations must step in and conduct an independent international investigation as a first step towards international justice.

In particular, the truth must be established about the extent of violations that occurred in the final stages of the war, when the government prohibited independent monitoring and reporting by the United Nations and other observers.

Disturbingly, the United Nations has so far failed to take any effective action to establish the truth and demand accountability for violations committed in Sri Lanka.

For lasting peace in Sri Lanka, there must be accountability. Allegations of war crimes and other crimes under international law must be fully investigated and those found to be responsible must be prosecuted before competent, impartial and independent criminal courts.

Survivors and the families of those killed must be provided with full and effective reparations to address their suffering and to help them rebuild their lives.

Impunity will continue in Sri Lanka unless the United Nations establishes an independent international investigation.