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Amnesty demands Sri Lanka act over rights abuses

[AFP, Thursday, 11 June 2009 10:27 No Comment]

ALeqM5hjssO5YojuZFFON9JhjVVEI1jq8w Sri Lankan authorities must finally bring justice to victims of two decades of rights violations if the ethnically divided island is to find peace, Amnesty International said Thursday.

The recent defeat of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels gave the government a unique opportunity to deal with past crimes and to secure long-term reconciliation, the rights group said.

Amnesty said enforced disappearances, killings and torture committed by both sides in the war had not been properly investigated for 20 years, and that serious rights violations had increased in the final months of battle.

Sri Lanka must initiate major legal reforms and seek international assistance to ensure accountability "if communities that have been torn apart by decades of violence and impunity are to be reconciled," it said.

Sam Zarifi, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific director, said the government’s failure to tackle serious crimes committed during the conflict had trapped the country in a vicious cycle of abuse and impunity.

"The Sri Lankan authorities have had little success in providing accountability for abuses against civilians committed by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)," he said.

"They are even less likely to effectively investigate and prosecute their own forces for violations of human rights and humanitarian law."

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