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‘Immediate action on Sri Lanka needed’ - Amnesty tells UN Human Rights Council

Amnesty International called for immediate action to address ‘the crisis of impunity that plagues Sri Lanka’ at the opening day of the 18th United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) session today in Geneva.

“Any sustainable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka will depend on a genuine, independent effort being made to learn the truth about serious violations during the civil war and deliver justice to the victims and their families,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

“National efforts to date have fallen far short of the mark, and the ongoing culture of impunity in Sri Lanka is shielding those responsible for past and ongoing abuses from being brought to justice.”

Amnesty’s statement came after the head of the Sri Lankan delegation Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe  told the council that the Sri Lankan Government's response to alleged human rights violations was “second to none”.

However Zarifi said in his response:

“It’s time for the Human Rights Council to actively promote truth, justice and reparations for the country’s thousands of victims of grave human rights violations that took place both during and after the civil war,”

Amnesty also noted that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon indicated that the UN Panel of Expert Report, released in April, will be officially handed to the Commissioner of the Human Rights Council Navi Pillay and other member states today.

"I'm expecting him [Ban] to do it today [Monday]," said Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, reported The Associated Press.

However, there has been no official transmission of the document yet, with no official explanation for the delay, Amnesty pointed out.

An official submission to the Human Rights Commissioner and member states would pave the way for a referral to the HRC.

The report called for the establishment of an international mechanism to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity if the Sri Lankan Government’s own inquiries proved to be insufficient.

See also our previous article:

Amnesty on Sri Lanka's LLRC (07.09.2011)

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