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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid