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UN first to see "shocking" Sri Lanka doc

[MISC, Wednesday, 1 June 2011 08:26 No Comment]

A forthcoming Channel 4 documentary detailing “harrowing” events from the Sri Lankan civial war will receive its first screening before the UN Human Rights Council.

The ITN-produced Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields will be shown in Geneva on Friday (3 June) attended by representatives from international governments.

It follows Christof Heyns, the UN’s independent investigator on extrajudicial killing, crediting footage of heinous acts first shown on Channel 4 News in December as authentic and reflecting “definitive war crimes”.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has not launched an investigation into what took place in the closing weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war.

Last month, Ban Ki-moon published a report by a UN appointed panel to investigate whether war crimes took place, which concluded that as many as 40,000 people were killed in the final weeks of the war. The panel called for an investigation at the time, which is yet to be ordered.

Channel 4 News’ Head of Foreign News, Ben De Pear, said: “The authentication of the footage by the UN which, as Christof Heyns says, could be important evidence of war crimes is of major international significance.

“We would like to pay tribute to the bravery of those who risked everything to get the footage out to the world, and to the relatives and friends who identified the victims in the video.”

The one-hour film, presented by Jon Snow and branded a “dossier of evidence”, will be shown on C4 on 14 June. It will feature photographic stills, official Sri Lankan army video footage and never-before-seen satellite imagery.

C4 head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne ordered the programme and said: “We believe this dossier of visual evidence combined with harrowing eye-witness testimony represents prima facie evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by forces of the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. 

“It is of the greatest possible public interest and as such we have a duty to journalistically scrutinise it.” 

Callum Macrae directed the film and said: “The Sri Lankan government wanted a war without witness – deporting journalists and pressurising UN representatives to leave – but it didn’t allow for the extraordinary power of mobile phone and satellite technology.

“We have trawled through hours of painfully raw recordings of the some of the most awful events I have ever seen in many years of war reporting.

[Full Coverage]

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