GENEVA: Sri Lanka is failing to investigate alleged atrocities committed by government forces in defeating a Tamil insurgency and activists and opposition politicians are still being killed or abducted, the United Nations said yesterday.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called on authorities to allow international experts in criminal and forensic investigations to help resolve outstanding wartime crimes and end impunity.
“The steps taken by the government to investigate allegations of serious violations of human rights further have also been inconclusive and lack the independence and impartiality required to inspire confidence,” Pillay said in a report on a UN mission to Sri Lanka in September.
Rights groups say the Sri Lankan military killed thousands of ethnic minority Tamil civilians in the shrinking territory held by rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam just before their defeat in May 2009.
An expert panel set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose findings have been rejected by Colombo, has said the army committed large-scale abuses and that as many as 40,000 civilians were killed in the last months of the conflict.
Pillay said the government has not set up a mechanism to trace adults who went missing during the latter stages of the war and that investigations of disappearances had not led to arrests or prosecutions.
The commissioner, a former judge of the International Criminal Court, last month accused Sri Lanka of “gross interference” in the judiciary, saying its removal of chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake could jeopardise efforts to prosecute war crimes.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government says it never targeted civilians. In written comments on Pillay’s report, it complained of inaccuracies and said a court of inquiry would probe a video broadcast by Britain’s Channel 4 television in 2009 purporting to show summary executions of Tamil prisoners by government soldiers. REUTERS