UN must investigate war crimes in Sri Lanka

by Jim McDonald, AIUSA Sri Lanka country specialist

It’s been a year since the war ended in Sri Lanka, with the government’s defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels. In the final months of the war, Amnesty International received credible reports of violations of human rights and war crimes being committed by both sides. The Tigers kept civilians trapped in the war zone and shot those trying to flee. The government shelled areas heavily populated by the trapped civilians. Thousands of civilians were killed or injured. A State Department report issued last year recounted these crimes in detail.

The Sri Lankan government promised the UN in May 2009 that it would address these violations. But so far what has it done? President Rajapaksa appointed a committee of experts to advise him on how to respond to the State Department report. And within the past week he has appointed a reconciliation commission to look into events during the war.

Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan government has a poor record of holding its forces accountable. Just read the Amnesty report, “Twenty Years of Make-Believe: Sri Lanka’s Commissions of Inquiry,” and you’ll see what I mean.

We can’t count on getting justice from the Sri Lankan government. So we’re starting a global action today calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to undertake an independent international investigation into violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including war crimes, committed by both sides during the war in Sri Lanka. Such an investigation is a necessary first step to achieving justice for the victims and their families. Please add your signature to the AIUSA online petition today – every voice counts! Thanks.

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