Calls for independent inquiry into Sri Lanka's civil warListen /
An independent international commission of inquiry should be established to investigate alleged human rights violations committed in the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war that ended in May 2009.
United Nations Human Rights chief Navi Pillay says although the Sri Lankan government had established various mechanisms to investigate past violations, none have had the independence they need to be effective or inspire confidence amongst the victims and witnesses.
In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Ms Pillay expressed concern over the continued harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders, attacks on religious minorities and suppression of the freedom of opinion and expression in Sri Lanka.
"The Government of Sri Lanka has not responded positively to OHCHR's repeated offers of technical assistance on specific elements that could advance the accountability and reconciliation agenda. Failure to address the grief and trauma among victims and survivors undermines confidence in the State and reconciliation. In recent years, the Government has established various mechanisms with the task to investigate past violations. But none have had the independence to be effective or inspire confidence among victims and witnesses. At the same time, new evidence continues to emerge, and witnesses are willing to come forward to testify before international mechanisms in which they have confidence and which can guarantee their protection. This shows that an international inquiry is not only warranted, but also possible, and can play a positive role in eliciting new information and establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed."
The UN Human Rights Council is expected to vote on a draft resolution authorizing the High commissioner for Human rights to undertake comprehensive investigations into alleged human rights violations committed in the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.