Sri Lanka’s failure to seek justice for the slaying of 17 aid workers in Trincomalee indicates the government’s intrinsic unwillingness to prosecute its security forces for atrocities, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a report marking the 6th anniversary of the killings.
On August 4 2006, 17 Tamil speaking aid workers were executed by gunmen in the Action Contre la Faim (ACF) office compound in Muthur, Trincomalee. There has been neither progress in government inquiries nor any charges for the killings, despite forceful evidence of security force participation.
James Ross, legal and policy director at HRW said:
“The sixth anniversary of the summary executions of 17 aid workers has brought the Sri Lankan government no closer to obtaining justice for the victims,
“President Rajapakse’s callous indifference to the suffering of the aid workers’ families will be a sad hallmark of his administration.”
In July 2009, the army and navy were exonerated in the ACF killings by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry which instead blamed the LTTE or Muslim militia.
HRW reports that witnesses faced difficulty in testifying under the commission and no effort was made to resolve a failed police investigation.
Regarding Sri Lanka’s imminent ‘National Action Plan’ Ross said:
“Governments that demanded action at the UN Human Rights Council shouldn’t be mollified by the Sri Lankan government’s tepid proposal to pursue criminal inquiries,
“Regarding investigations into wartime abuses, the government’s ‘action plan’ reads more like an ‘inaction plan.’”
Read the full HRW report here.