Sri Lanka to refuse UN panel entry

[JURIST] Sri Lankan External Affairs Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris [official website] said Thursday that members of a recently-appointed UN panel [JURIST report] will not be permitted to enter the country to investigate allegations of human rights abuses during the last months of the Sri Lankan civil war [JURIST news archive]. The government rejected the appointment of the panel [JURIST report] earlier this week. Peiris indicated that the panel was unnecessary and noted that Sri Lanka would not issue visas to its members [AFP report]. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] announced the formation of the panel [press release] on Tuesday in order to investigate alleged wartime abuses of civilians by both the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive]. The panel has been asked to examine "the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience with regard to accountability processes, taking into account the nature and scope of any alleged violations in Sri Lanka" and make the information available to the Sri Lankan government for further action on the matter. The panel will also report on the implementation of the human rights accountability statement [text] that both Ban and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] agreed to last May, but which Rajapaksa subsequently rejected [JURIST report]. The Sri Lankan government has firmly denied agreeing to the implementation of the human rights accountability statement and has cited an internal commission appointed last month [press release] as sufficient to deal with reconciliation issues within Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of the civil war. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] announced it had acquired new evidence [JURIST report] supporting allegations of war crimes. Also last month, the International Crisis Group (ICG) [official website] accused Sri Lankan security forces of war crimes [JURIST report], claiming that the violence of the 30-year civil war escalated in January 2009, leaving thousands more dead than projected by the UN. In March, Ban reaffirmed his plan to set up a UN panel [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of human rights violations during the civil war. Earlier in March, Rajapaksa rejected [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 "s totally uncalled for and unwarranted."

 

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