News / Asia

Release of UN War Crimes Report Could Pressure Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil victims of a shell attack wait outside a makeshift hospital in Tiger controlled No Fire Zone in Mullivaaykaal, May 10, 2009
Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil victims of a shell attack wait outside a makeshift hospital in Tiger controlled No Fire Zone in Mullivaaykaal, May 10, 2009

Multimedia

Audio

While the U.N.-commissioned report has not yet been made public, Sri Lanka's External Ministry rejected it Wednesday as "fundamentally flawed." The ministry issued a statement saying the report dealing with possible war crimes is based on "patently biased material which is presented without any verification." The statement says officials will comment in detail on the report "in due course."

Human rights organizations, for their part, have reacted very favorably to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's promise to release the full report to the public, once Sri Lanka's leaders have had a chance to digest it. The report could be made public in a matter of days.

The U.N. panel focused much of its attention on the final few months of Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war.  The country's Sinhalese majority government won decisively in its campaign against militant Tamil separatists in 2009.

Both sides have been accused of atrocities, but allegations that Sri Lanka's government may have killed as many as 10,000 civilians in those few months have put officials on the defensive.

Alan Keenan is a senior analyst on Sri Lanka with the International Crisis Group. He says he hopes the U.N. experts will ratchet up international pressure to get answers.

"We hope that they will concur with us that the current Sri Lankan government initiative is not adequate, and that therefore some kind of an international commission of inquiry is required," said Keenan.

Keenan says it is very unlikely the United Nations Security Council or Human Rights Council would form an investigative body. That is partly because powerful veto-holding members Russia and China are sympathetic to the Sri Lankan position that the civil war investigation is an internal matter.

"We think the easiest and most likely [option] is for the Secretary-General himself to appoint some kind of investigative body, and that could have enough investigative powers to produce a further, more detailed study than this panel of experts has been able to do," Kennan said.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, says she hopes the U.N. report will legitimize her group's accusations, which Sri Lanka has dismissed in the past as part of a conspiracy.

"What we are hoping is that it will put a final end to this round of allegations hurled at human rights groups that everything is conjured up," said Ganguly.

Ganguly says failure to approach the issue of civil war atrocities transparently will cost Sri Lanka's government its legitimacy in the long run.

"If Sri Lanka now becomes the proponent for a government that carpet bombs civilians to win a war, that is not the message that is going to be acceptable to most that believe in human rights," said Ganguly. "And Sri Lanka, in a way, is destroying its own credibility by doing this kind of thing, so eventually it will hurt them."

The U.N.-appointed experts were prevented from visiting Sri Lanka on their own terms, and experts say they did not have a strong enough mandate to conduct investigations on the ground. A report by Sri Lankan-appointed investigators, known as the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, is expected to be released next month.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs