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Rights groups criticize Sri Lanka war report

[AFP, Saturday, 17 December 2011 11:59 No Comment]

International human rights groups criticized a Sri Lankan report Friday on the island’s civil war and called for more accountability after the commission cleared the military of key charges.

The Sri Lankan government commission, in a 400-page report, concluded that the military did not deliberately target civilians during the final stages of the conflict as forces wiped out the Tamil Tiger rebel leadership.

Human Rights Watch renewed calls for an independent review. Sri Lanka has said that its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will suffice and narrowly avoided censure at the UN Human Rights Council in September.

"Governments and UN bodies have held back for the past 18 months to allow the Sri Lankan commission to make progress on accountability," said Brad Adams, Asia director at the New York-based rights group.

"The commission’s failure to provide a roadmap for investigating and prosecuting wartime perpetrators shows the dire need for an independent, international commission," he said in a statement.

Amnesty International said that the commission acknowledged problems in Sri Lanka but ignored "serious evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of the laws of war."

"There is a clear sign of the bias we had feared and already detected in the LLRC’s composition and conduct," said the London-based group’s Asia-Pacific director Sam Zarifi.

"It does however offer some interesting recommendations about how to improve the overall human rights situation in Sri Lanka that the government needs to take seriously.

"The Sri Lankan government must now address the findings included in this report," Zarifi added, calling for Colombo to report to the UN Human Rights Council in March on its progress.

[Full Coverage]

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