Emergence of war crimes video evidence brings IBAHRI call on Sri Lankan Government to establish credible investigation
International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), 21/06/2011 - The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to fully cooperate with the international community to establish an independent commission of inquiry in accordance with the recommendations made in the United Nations’ Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.
Further, the IBAHRI is gravely concerned by the increasing amount of evidence relating to alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law committed during the conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The catalogue of evidence of perpetrated heinous crimes was expanded recently by the UK's Channel 4 News documentary, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’. Broadcast on 14 June 2011, the documentary depicts executions, death, injury and evidence of sexual abuse.
Dr Mark Ellis, IBA Executive Director, said, ‘“Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields”, is very disturbing footage which, without doubt, shows prima facie evidence that war crimes, and likely crimes against humanity were committed, as defined by international law. Prompt and effective investigations should be conducted immediately to bring to justice those who committed these crimes, as well as those with command responsibility who failed to stop the atrocities. International law is unequivocal in this respect.’
Although the Government of Sri Lanka has established the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, to address issues of accountability, the Panel of Experts appointed on 22 June 2010, to advise the United Nations Secretary-General, states in its Report that the Commission ‘is deeply flawed’ and ‘does not meet international standards for an effective accountability mechanism’ and ‘cannot satisfy the joint commitment of the President of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General to an accountability process.’ The Panel’s recommendation is that the UN Secretary-General ‘should immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism’ to ‘conduct investigations independently into the alleged violations, having regard to genuine and effective domestic investigations.’
‘We believe that in order to build a lasting, sustainable peace and to maintain public confidence in the rule of law, the Government of Sri Lanka must send a clear signal that it is committed to ensuring accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,’ said Dr Mark Ellis.
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