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Amnesty slams Sri Lanka’s inquiry on civil war

[Hindu, Saturday, 17 September 2011 12:26 No Comment]

The Amnesty International has slammed the method of inquiry conducted by the Sri Lankan government into the civil war as it was “fundamentally flawed and provides no accountability for atrocities”.

The report of the Amnesty International — When will they get justice? “exposed the shortcomings” of the inquiry commission — the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), appointed by the Mahinda Rajapakse government in May 2010, it said.

The LLRC had failed to properly pursue allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity levelled against both government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific Director Sam Zarifi said in its website: “The Sri Lankan government has, for almost two years, used the LLRC as its trump card in lobbying against an independent international investigation. Officials described it as a credible accountability mechanism, able to deliver justice and promote reconciliation. In reality it’s flawed at every level: in mandate, composition and practice.” LLRC’s mandate fell far short of international standards for such inquiries.

An analysis by the Amnesty International of the LLRC’s publicly available transcripts found it failed to appropriately investigate credible allegations of systematic violations by both sides to the conflict, including illegal killings and enforced disappearances, widespread shelling of civilian targets such as hospitals, and use of civilians as shields.

Interestingly LLRC’s commissioners include former Sri Lankan government officials who had publicly defended Colombo against allegations of war crimes, it said.

The report said during LLRC’s first field visit, the panel’s Chairman made no mention of human rights abuses, telling witnesses to “forget the past”. Instead, he asked them to tell the Commission about any problems accessing education, medical care and housing.

The Commission ignored crucial questions about the role of government forces in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

[Full Coverage]

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