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Rights Group Urges Support for UN Sri Lanka Investigation

A leading international human rights group is calling on the United States and other countries to support a United Nations panel investigating alleged rights abuses during Sri Lanka's civil war.

Human Rights Watch said Wednesday support for the panel and its recommendations is "crucial."

The New York-based rights group said a U.S. State Department report released this week shows Sri Lanka has not yet conducted an effective investigation into possible violations by government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels in the final months of the war.

The legal director for Human Rights Watch, James Ross, says an international investigation is needed to achieve real progress on justice.

The group says the State Department report called the Sri Lankan government's first post-war inquiry "ineffective" and raised concerns about the independence and impartiality of some members of the commission currently carrying out a second investigation.

The government-appointed panel began hearings Wednesday on why a 2002 cease-fire between the government and the Tamil Tigers collapsed.

The group is to report its findings to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in six months.

Earlier this week, a group of U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton alleging the Sri Lankan panel "lacked credibility." The group called on the Obama administration to push for an international inquiry into the alleged war crimes.

The United Nations says at least 7,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed in the last stage of the conflict in Sri Lanka. The war ended in May of last year with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.