News / Asia

UN Launches Sri Lanka War Crimes Investigation

FILE - Tamil women cry as they hold up images of their disappeared family members during the war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at a protest in Jaffna north of Colombo, Aug. 27, 2013.
FILE - Tamil women cry as they hold up images of their disappeared family members during the war against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at a protest in Jaffna north of Colombo, Aug. 27, 2013.
Reuters
The United Nations on Thursday launched an inquiry into war crimes allegedly committed by both Sri Lankan state forces and Tamil rebels during the conflict that ended in 2009, saying the government had failed to investigate properly.
 
“The international community has become increasingly concerned by the continued lack of progress in achieving reconciliation, justice and accountability for serious allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” Paula Schriefer, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, told the U.N. Human Rights Council.
 
Sri Lanka, which rejected the resolution, has been under international pressure to deal with war crimes allegedly committed in the final stage of the 26-year conflict, when the army defeated separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.
 
Sri Lanka's ambassador, Ravinatha Aryasinha, told the talks on Thursday the island nation had made tangible progress in addressing accountability. He said parallel processes would be “counter-productive”.
 
“Sri Lanka categorically and unreservedly rejects this draft resolution as it challenges the sovereignty and independence of a member state of the U.N ... and is inimical to the interests of the people of Sri Lanka,” he said in a speech before the vote.
 
But Britain's ambassador Karen Pearce said, “This is not about needing more time. It is about the government not showing the political will to back a transparent, thorough and credible investigation that delivers truth to those who seek it.”
 
The head of Sri Lanka's human rights council said the inquiry's eventual report could lead to sanctions on the country imposed by the U.N. Security Council, including a freeze of bank accounts and bans on travel by Sri Lankan leaders.
 
“That is where the problem will start,” said Prathiba Mahanama. “But we still have an opportunity to do things in a way to prevent a report reaching the Security Council.”
 
A total of 23 states voted in favor, 12 against and 12 abstained. States that voted against included China and Pakistan, while Sri Lanka's neighbor, India, abstained.
 
'Justice cannot wait'

 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the vote “sends a clear message: The time to pursue lasting peace and prosperity is now; justice and accountability cannot wait”.
 
“We are deeply concerned by recent actions against some of Sri Lanka's citizens, including detentions and harassment of civil society activists. Further reprisals against these brave defenders of human rights and the dignity of all Sri Lankan citizens would elicit grave concern from the international community,” Kerry said in a statement.
 
The investigation will be led by the office of U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge.
 
Amnesty International said the inquiry would bring hope for  thousands of victims of abuses in Sri Lanka.
 
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a gathering on Wednesday the West and the United Nations were talking about false allegations, and had failed to take similar action when the separatist Tamil Tigers had attacked people and religious places.
 
Rajapaksa was speaking in southern Sri Lanka among the country's Buddhist majority at a campaign event for local polls on Saturday.
 
Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, leader of the Tamil National Alliance, the main Tamil party, thanked the countries that supported the text.
 
“We appeal to the government of Sri Lanka to extend their fullest cooperation to ensure the implementation of the resolution ... for genuine reconciliation and [to] achieve permanent peace in this country,” he said.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid