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UN vote on Sri Lanka under attack – FT

[The Financial Times, Thursday, 28 May 2009 06:31 One Comment]

In what will be seen as a further blow to its already damaged credibility, the UN human rights council on Wednesday voted in favour of a mild resolution on the situation in Sri Lanka which western nations said would do nothing to help victims of the just-ended civil war or remedy widespread human rights violations.

China, India, Russia and 26 other countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, who have a built-in majority on the 47-strong council, backed a resolution supported by Sri Lanka that emphasised the right of states to manage their internal affairs without interference.

The resolution condemned attacks on civilians by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, and their use of civilians as human shields in the final stages of the conflict, but says nothing about alleged abuses by government forces or other human rights concerns including forced disappearances and the harassment of human rights activists and journalists.

Juliette de Rivero, advocacy director in the Geneva office of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said: “This is a step backwards for the human rights council. The resolution fails to hold the Sri Lankan government accountable.”

European nations, supported by Canada, Mexico and Chile, called unsuccessfully for an independent investigation of alleged war crimes by both sides, an end to impunity, and unhindered access for aid workers to the more than 300,000 displaced.

The US and other newly elected members of the council did not vote on Wednesday. They are due to take their seats in mid-June.

Aid agencies complain that their movements continue to be restricted. Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said yesterday that the humanitarian agency was still barred from visiting certain camps holding displaced people, including some interned for security reasons. He did not give details.

On Tuesday Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the human rights council “an independent and credible international investigation” was needed to establish the facts following allegations of war crimes committed by both sides. Ensuring accountability for abuses committed in the recent fighting was important for national reconciliation, she said.

Thousands of people were killed and injured in the final weeks of the conflict as the Tamil Tigers prevented civilians from leaving the war zone and government forces allegedly continued to shell the area, a claim the government denies.

UN human rights investigators also said they continued to receive “disturbing reports of torture, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances” in Sri Lanka.

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One Comment »

  • fdimul said:

    Its time for Obama to act sending its forces to Srilanka and bring Srilaka to its knees. Britain and France along with Germany should support such a move by sending their forces too.

    No need to consult any U.N. rights commission or such since the members in those council are terrorists who like to see innocent people being killed by their governments.

    Better to disband U.N. and action be taken on Srilanka by wagin a war on that country.