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Amnesty calls for new UN probe in Lanka

world Updated: Feb 28, 2011 19:25 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Amnesty International (AI), a global human rights watchdog, has urged the United Nations (UN) to investigate new reports of human rights abuses including abductions and killings in northern Sri Lanka.

In a written statement to the UN Human Rights Council, AI said Lanka’s human rights haven’t improved in the last one year even as it continues to stall international investigations into alleged war crimes.

``Impunity persists for past violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, and new and serious violations of human rights continue to be reported. In the two years since fighting ended in Sri Lanka evidence of serious violations and abuses by parties to the conflict has continued to mount, but the Sri Lankan Government has refused to acknowledge credible allegations of war crimes and other crimes under international law by its armed forces in the course of the conflict that ended in May 2009,’’ the statement said.

The AI urged UN Secretary General’s office to investigate new reports of abductions, enforced disappearances and killings in northern Sri Lanka and throughout the country, and ensure perpetrators identified are brought to justice and tried in full conformity with international standards for fair trial. ``Stop harassment, intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and other peaceful critics exposing past or present violations or abuses,’’ it said.

Referring to UNSG Ban Ki-moon’s panel of experts, appointed in 2010 to advise him on accountability in Sri Lanka, AI said the report was expected to issue its report in March while the Human Rights Council was meeting. It urged the ``Secretary-General to issue the report publicly without delay to ensure that the Human Rights Council and other UN bodies can consider its findings and recommendations without further delay. The Council must consider that report carefully.’’

It further urged the UN to ensure the independence of key justice institutions in Sri Lanka necessary to protect human rights and combat impunity; initiate reforms to bring domestic institutions into line with international standards, including by establishing an effective witness protection scheme.