[JURIST] Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile] on Saturday rejected [press release] the plan of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] to appoint a panel of experts to look into alleged rights abuses in the island nation's civil war, saying it "is totally uncalled for and unwarranted." Rajapaksa said that establishing this panel:
would certainly be perceived as an interference with the current general election campaign being held island wide; where the people of the North and of the East who were not free to participate in such elections earlier were being given the opportunity to do so, respecting the highest standards of democracy.
Rajapaksa noted that the elections were generally considered peaceful, free, and fair, and that he had already appointed a panel to investigate human rights abuses.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Thursday criticized the state of human rights [JURIST report] in Sri Lanka, while presenting her annual report [press release] to the 13th Session [official website] of the Human Rights Council [official website]. Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of the civil war by both the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive]. In October, the US State Department [official website] released a report [text, PDF] on the conflict, urging [JURIST report] Sri Lankan officials to investigate reports of human rights abuses and war crimes and to prosecute those responsible. While the government of Sri Lanka rejected [statement] the findings of the report, President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] decided in October to appoint an independent committee [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of human rights violations.