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International Crisis Group

International Crisis Group: War Crimes in Sri Lanka

May 18, 2010 Sri Lanka Campaign Comments Off

Key highlights of the briefing given by ICG on its report ‘War crimes in Sri Lanka’

The powerful report, citing witness testimony, satellite images, documents and other evidence, calls for a wide-reaching international investigation into atrocities against civilians committed by the Sri Lankan government in the last in the last months of its war against the Tamil Tiger insurgency.

The report states there is “reasonable grounds to believe the Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible. There is evidence of war crimes committed by the LTTE and its leaders as well, but most of them were killed and will never face justice. An international inquiry into alleged crimes is essential given the absence of political will or capacity for genuine domestic investigations, the need for an accounting to address the grievances that drive conflict in Sri Lanka, and the potential of other governments adopting the Sri Lankan model of counter-insurgency in their own internal conflicts.”

ICG believes the narrative used by GoSL – casing their offensive as a “war on terrorism” – resulted in the international community turning a blind eye and giving the GoSL a mandate to end the “insurgency”, irrespective of the collateral damage and absolute violation of International Laws.

The report:

— Presents overwhelming evidence gathered to support the need for an independent enquiry into war crimes committed by both sides.

— Questions the role played by the UN. Silence was the price of access. But what happens when silence verges on complicity with gross human rights abuse and war crimes?

— Reminds readers of the strong evidence that there is very little political will in Sri Lanka to ensure a credible process. Thus, as with past commissions of enquiry by the government, this one will also fail.

— Highlights how Sri Lanka will never have true peace or stability till its citizens & diaspora get a fair and credible account of the wrongs done by both parties.

— Warns that the “Sri Lanka option” (the use overwhelming military force, disregard international and humanitarian law, avoid media exposure so gaining the freedom to kill the insurgents with any level of civilian causalities) is fast becoming a model for others to follow.

In an apparent bid to pre-empt the ICG and another congressionally mandated US report next month, Sri Lanka announced today it would allow another inquiry by a newly formed “lessons learnt and reconciliation commission”.

Speaking in London, Louise Arbour, ICG president and a former chief prosecutor of the international tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, held out little hope that the new inquiry would be adequate or impartial. Arbour dismissed out of hand the government’s assertion that no civilians had been killed, and said only an independent outside investigation would suffice.

To read – War Crimes in Sri Lanka | Crisis Group