Rights group claims Sri Lanka government committed war crimes

[JURIST] The International Crisis Group (ICG) [official website] on Monday accused Sri Lankan security forces of war crimes [report text] during the last months of the Sri Lankan civil war [JURIST news archive]. The ICG claims that the violence of the 30-year civil war, which ended one year ago this month, escalated in January 2009 leaving thousands more dead than projected by the UN:

The Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) repeatedly violated international humanitarian law during the last five months of their 30-year civil war. Although both sides committed atrocities throughout the many years of conflict, the scale and nature of violations particularly worsened from January 2009 to the government’s declaration of victory in May. Evidence gathered by the International Crisis Group suggests that these months saw tens of thousands of Tamil civilian men, women, children and the elderly killed, countless more wounded, and hundreds of thousands deprived of adequate food and medical care, resulting in more deaths. This evidence also provides reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible. There is evidence of war crimes committed by the LTTE and its leaders as well, but most of them were killed and will never face justice.
The ICG went on to state that it had acquired enough evidence supporting allegations of shelling civilians, hospitals, and environmental facilities to warrant a independent inquiry by the UN on war crimes in Sri Lanka during the law months of the civil war. The Sri Lanka government denies these allegations and claims that no civilians were killed during the final months of the war. The UN has yet to comment on the report.

In March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] reaffirmed his plan to set up a UN panel [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of human rights violations during the civil war. Earlier that month, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile] rejected [press release; JURIST report] Ban's plan 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." The ICG report gives further validations to an independent UN inquiry into Sri Lankan war crimes. 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].

 

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