Sri Lanka: White lies and brute force

See NDTV ’s report from Vanni (broadcast Sep 10, 2011) which includes: - survivors' accounts of mass killings of Tamil civilians during the final months of the conflict, - victims accounts of torture, rape and persecution by Sri Lanka’s military after the war’s end, - and the Sri Lankan government's denials and excuses .

Full international investigation, nothing less - HRW

Human Rights Watch today joined the growing chorus urging the UN Human Rights Council to hold Sri Lanka accountable for war crimes. In a statement released on Tuesday, Brad Adams, Asia director at the group said, “When a UN Panel of Experts report concludes up to 40,000 civilians died amid war crimes, the Human Rights Council should feel compelled to act . The council should order a full international investigation – anything less would be a shameful abdication of responsibility. ” The report commissioned by the UN Secretary-General was sent to the Human Rights Council on the opening day of...

'US comments on LLRC help Sri Lanka thwart international action'

The United States and other governments must move without further delay toward an independent international investigation into mass atrocities during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict, and desist from lending credibility to Sri Lanka’s sham domestic investigation , Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) said in a statement Monday. Pointing out that leading international human rights organisations have comprehensively discredited Sri Lanka’s government-appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee (LLRC), TAG said comments by US officials on expectations of the LLRC’s report merely contributed to...

Dias 'recalled'?

Sri Lankan Major General Jagath Dias has been recalled from his post as Deputy Ambassador to Germany and Switzerland, in response to allegations that he committed war crimes according to swissinfo . The Swiss news platform cited diplomatic sources on Tuesday, who confirmed that Dias had been recalled to Sri Lanka. It follows the Swiss foreign ministry confirming that the case was of “great significance” and that they had talked to Sri Lankan authorities regarding it. The move comes after criminal cases were filed against the Major General, accusing troops under his command of committing war...

TNA slams government on accountability, PTA and reconciliation

In a statement released Tuesday, the TNA, slammed the Sri Lankan government’s failure to make any meaningful progress on accountability or genuine efforts at reconciliation. The statement was issued shortly after reports confirmed the transmittal of the report by the UN Panel of Experts to the UN High Commissioner, by Ban Ki Moon. Slamming the LLRC as 'flawed', with a 'limited mandate' and having only resulted in 'very modest interim recommendations', the statement was severely critical of the government's recurrent failure to deliver. “ The failure of the government to implement even the modest interim recommendations of its own domestic mechanism highlights the importance of a genuine, credible and independent mechanism to advance accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka .” Cataloguing a series of false promises and the Sri Lankan delegation's recent remonstrations to the contrary at the UNHRC, the TNA urged the government to “be more forthright and honest in its representation of the situation in Sri Lanka to the international community”, accusing it of engaging in a “constant flow of misinformation".

‘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”.

At the UN Human Rights Council ...

Sri Lanka came under mounting pressure from the United Nations and Western powers on Monday to ensure that perpetrators of atrocities committed in its long conflict that ended in 2009 are held to account. See reports by Reuters , AP and BBC . See related posts: (Monday Sep 12) Ban sends expert panel’s report to UN Human Rights Council, launches probe into UN’s conduct Amnesty urges UN rights council to act on Sri Lanka Sri Lanka squirms at UNHRC Pressure grows for action on Sri Lanka (Tuesday Sep 13) Full international investigation, nothing less - HRW See earlier posts: EU to stress...

Sri Lanka squirms at UNHRC

Faced with the rising tide of voices calling for an independent international investigation, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Sri Lanka's plantation minister and representative at the UNHRC meeting in Geneva, launched a desperate counter attack. The Sri Lanka delegation has evidently been caught off guard by news that Ban Ki Moon plans to hand over the report by the UN Panel of Experts into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka to Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, imminently. Samarasinghe fought back, reportedly criticising the UN for being 'biased' and for failing to inform Sri Lanka previously regarding the handing over of the report, and for the very fact Sri Lanka was informally discussed. According to a report in the Sunday Times, Samarasinghe remarked, "The Government of Sri Lanka was concerned at a growing trend in the Human Rights Council to depart from well established principles of procedures in the conduct of the affairs of the Council and noted the failure on the part of the High Commissioner to inform the concerned State, Sri Lanka, regarding a report about Sri Lanka that was transmitted between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General." He is also said to have remarked, that the High Commissioner's 'failure' to inform the state in question, raises "serious concerns" and leads to a "loss in confidence" in the High Commissioner's office. The ruffled Samarasinghe, attempting to seek cover behind the infamous LLRC, added, "It is critical to wait for that body to finish its deliberations and come up with its conclusions in due time."

Government uses lifting of emergency to facilitate land grab

Citing the removal of emergency regulations, the Sri Lankan government has ordered the dismantling of the Ministry of Resettlement and announced the intended aquisition of private lands within High-Security Zones. Rauff-Hakeem, the Justice Minister who made the announcement, explained that if in some areas, the HSZs were needed, the Government would acquire the land legally. He is reported to have said a security assessment would be made before deciding which areas were needed to be retained as HSZs, situated mainly in Vadamarachchi, Valikamam and Thenmarachchi. The dismantling of the Resettlement Ministry, whilst no doubt insignificant in terms of resettlement productivity, serves to undermine the on-going IDP situation over two years after the government declared peace. Moreover, it diminuishes the plight of remaining IDPS, whose right to return to their original lands appears increasingly precarious and their right of appeal, hopeless. In Sampur, where the proposed coal plant will result in over 900 families losing their homes, the Governor Rear Admiral Wijewickrema has threatened that any IDPs who refuse land offered to them by the government will no longer be deemed 'displaced'. See our earlier post 'IDPs branded 'squatters on state land' . These moves are the latest in a draft of measures that expidite the aquisition of private lands in the North-East, with no room for appeal.

Calls for closure of Sri Lankan children’s homes

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) of Sri Lanka has called for the closure of all 470 children’s homes in the country due to ‘rampant’ abuse of the inhabitants. Around 20,000 orphans and children from abusive family backgrounds are housed in homes around the country. Anoma Dissanayake, head of the NCPA told BBC Sinhala: “Shocking incidents are happening in children's homes all over the country. Rarely, there are some very good children's homes but this is the situation in most of the homes. Our aim is to fully establish [a] foster care system replacing children's homes within the...