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December 16, 2011

Rights Groups Criticize Sri Lanka War Report

Human rights groups have called for an international investigation and more accountability following the release of a Sri Lankan report clearing its military of targeting civilians in the final stages of the country's civil war.

Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) said it was "satisfied" security forces had taken precautions to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.  The 440-page report was presented to parliament on Friday.

Brad Adams, Human Right's Watch's Asia director, said the commission's failure to provide a roadmap for investigating and prosecuting wartime perpetrators shows the "dire need" for an independent, international commission.

Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director Sam Zarifi said the report contained signs of the "bias we had feared."  He urged Colombo to report its measures to implement the report's findings, including the need to further probe war crimes, to the U.N.'s Human Rights Council in March.   

The LLRC was created last year amid intense international pressure to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by the military and Tamil Tiger rebels in the final phase of Sri Lanka's 25-year civil war.  

The war ended in 2009 with the military's defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

A United Nations report issued in April said tens of thousands of civilians may have been killed due to government shelling of hospitals and other civilian targets. The report said the military's actions could amount to war crimes and called for the U.N. to establish a special body to investigate further.

The Sri Lanka government has denied it committed war crimes during the conflict.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.