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Shocking video footage of summary executions apparently committed during the Sri Lankan civil war has been examined by experts and appears to be convincing evidence of “serious international crimes,” according to Christof Heyns, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
Since late last year, the United Nations has closely studied the video that allegedly showed acts committed during the civil war that ended in 2009. “I conclude on the basis of the extensive technical evidence we obtained from independent experts that what is depicted in the video indeed happened,” Mr. Heyns told the Human Rights Council in Geneva, adding that “I believe that a prima facie case of serious international crimes has been made.” He said an international panel should investigate the evidence.
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Sri Lankan Christians Call for Genuine Reconciliation May 2nd, 2011
Twenty-five Sri Lankan Christians, including two Oblate priests, issued a statement that is believed to have prompted the recent release of the report of the UN Secretary General’s panel of experts on the war in Sri Lanka. The group has called for open discussion of what happened in the final months of the war, and the current situation in the north where the majority of Tamils live.
According to their letter:
We believe that it is left to us Sri Lankans to establish and acknowledge the truth, apologize for wrongs done, ensure justice and accountability, and through measures such as reparations, show our care and support towards those who have suffered such as families of those killed and disappeared, those who have been injured during war and due to torture, those who continue to be detained without charges and without due process, those who had been displaced and lost properties etc. It is our contention that truth, justice, accountability together with care and reparation for victims are essential ingredients for progress, development of a post war Sri Lanka, along with a longer term political solution that addresses grievances of Tamil community that led to the birth of the LTTE and full scale war.
But it is our assessment that we have been unable to make significant progress on any of the above fronts within Sri Lanka, particularly in the last two years since the end of the war. The process of LLRC [Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission] had not given us much confidence though we still hope for positive outcomes from the LLRC, particularly the publication of it’s final report, conclusions and recommendations as soon as possible, which would have the potential to serve as a valuable resource for our reconciliation efforts. In this context we believe international assistance can also be crucial in our post war rebuilding and reconciliation efforts. Thus, we find it encouraging that establishment of the truth, apology for wrongs done, justice, accountability and reparation for victims is reflected in the conclusions and recommendations of the panel of experts appointed by the UNSG.
UN Report on Sri Lanka War Crimes Released April 26th, 2011
The panel of experts set up to advise Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on accountability issues with respect to the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka has found credible reports of war crimes committed by both the Government and Tamil rebels and calls for genuine investigations into the allegations, according to a report released in full by the Secretary General yesterday.
According to a statement released by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
“The United Nations has today made public the advisory report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on accountability with respect to the final stages of the decades-long armed conflict in Sri Lanka, which was submitted to him on 12 April 2011. The decision to release the report was made as a matter of transparency and in the broader public interest.”
“The report was shared in its entirety with the Government of Sri Lanka on 12 April. The Secretary-General has indicated his willingness to publicize the Government’s response alongside the report. This invitation was extended to the Sri Lankan Government throughout the week, including again on Saturday by the Secretary-General to the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka. The Government has not responded to this offer, which nonetheless still stands.”Read the full report…
Archbishop Miller Issues Plea on Behalf of Tamil Refugees in Canada August 30th, 2010Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver Diocese issued a statement on August 25, 2010 on the situation of the 492 Tamil refugees that arrived in Vancouver in early August seeking asylum.
The arrival of the refugees-laden ship has generated controversy within Canada. Canadian Tamils, the largest Tamil community outside Sri Lanka and India, have urged authorities to accept the asylum seekers, saying that the minority group faces continued discrimination at the hands of the majority Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to Canada has asked the country to reject their refugee status due to alleged links to the Tamil Tiger separatist movement. The Tamil Tigers or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) as the military wing of the separatist Tamil movement and was brutally wiped out in the spring of 2009. Tens of thousands of Tamils are believed to have died in the final months of the conflict, trapped as they were between the two warring armies. War crimes are reported to have been committed by both sides.
“Keep the dignity of Tamil refugees in mind during immigration debate”
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The 2009 US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices were released on March 11, 2010.
For the report on Sri Lanka, please go to:
The Annual Human Rights reports are put out by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State.
Expert Witnesses Detail IDP Situation in Sri Lanka December 17th, 2009
Three panels of expert witnesses testified on December 10, Humam Rights Day, about current realities facing internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in northern and Eastern Sri Lanka. The government’s recent decision finally to allow the resettlement of displaced Tamil civilians who had been held in internment camps since the end of a brutal war in May was commended. At the same time, concern was expressed about inconsistencies in policies governing the recent releases, continued lack of access by humanitarian organizations (including the UN) to IDPs in resettlement areas and former LTTE cadres in detention centers, the safety of released IDPs and the need for further de-mining of formerly populated areas.
The following Issue experts testified:
- Eric Schwartz, Assistant Secretary for Population, Migration and Refugees, U.S. Department of State (Download PDF of testimony)
- Michel Gabaudan, regional representative for the United States of America and the Caribbean, UNHCR (Download PDF of testimony)
- Miriam Young, US Counsel on Sri Lanka
- Christoph Koettl, Amnesty International (Download PDF of testimony)
- Robert Oberst, Nebraska Wesleyan University
- Jennifer Leonard, International Crisis Group