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US Senators call for Independent International Investigations

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 December 2010 10:09 No Comment]

Seventeen United States Senators, in a letter sent to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urged her to "call for an independent international investigation into the allegations of gross human rights violations that occurred during the country’s 25-year civil war." Coinciding with the week following release of WikiLeaks cable which revealed the Colombo-based US diplomats’ view that "responsibility for many alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka," the letter follows the August letter sent by 58 members of Congress urging the Obama administration to push for an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes that occurred during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

SenatorsLettertoHC The Senators pointed out that August Office of the War Crimes report and the October State Department "detailed over 300 alleged accounts of human rights atrocities committed during the civil armed conflict…" adding, "[o]nly when full accountability for violations of international law take place can Sri Lanka move forward and successfully build a peaceful future."

Reminding that the commissions appointed by Sri lanka to investigate human rights violations in the past have been largely unsuccessful, the letter said that the major international human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have questioned the transparency, impartiality and insufficient mandate of these commissions, and have called for an independent investigation.

People of Sri Lanka should receive factual answers for any abuses occurred during the war, the letter asserted.

"Without a means of verification, any findings will lack credibility and true accountability," the Senators said, reiterating that "[a]ccountability is an essential component of the reconciliation process and critically important to the success of the rebuilding effort."

The Senators cautioned that "history is littered with failed attempts to bring peace and many of those conflicts remain active today."

Quoting Obama who said on the situation in Sri Lank, "[g]oing forward, Sri Lanka must seek a peace that is secure and lasting, and grounded in respect fro all of its citizens," the Senators said "an independent international investigation into any crimes against humanity committed would be a good first step in achieving this goal."

It is noteworthy that the Senators also used the term "crimes against humanity" indicating that the crimes, if proven, consititue grave breach of Geneva conventions, and are described as "odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority."

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