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Rights group protests Sri Lanka war abuse inquiry

Rights group protests Sri Lanka war abuse inquiry

An international rights group on Wednesday protested Sri Lanka's plan to study wartime abuses alleged in a recent U.S State Department report, saying only an international inquiry would bring victims justice.
The report last week listed alleged attacks on civilians and hospitals by government forces and forcible recruitment of children and civilian killings by the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels during the final phase of the country's 25-year-old civil war, which ended in May.
U.N. reports say more than 7,000 civilians were killed in the last five months of the war. Some of the deaths were in government-declared safe zones, the State Department report said, listing one account of continuous military shelling for 10 hours that killed 108 civilians.
Sri Lankan authorities this week proposed a committee of experts to study every incident alleged in the report and prepare a detailed response. The committee, however, will not be a fully fledged commission of inquiry, Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told reporters.
"The government's committee is merely an effort to buy time and hope the world will forget the bloodbath that civilians suffered at the end of the war," Human Rights Watch quoted its Asia director, Brad Adams, as saying.
"Only an independent international investigation will uncover the truth about this brutal war and ensure justice for the victims. The U.N. and U.S. should not play along with the government's pretense that it will conduct its own investigation," Adams said in the group's statement.
Sri Lanka has resisted demands from rights groups for an international investigation, saying the military acted within international laws. It has said, however, that any allegation presented with evidence will be investigated.
The government barred journalists from the war zone and evicted aid groups, including the U.N., months before the final assault, making independent assessments difficult.
Sri Lanka's victory over the Tamil Tigers ended their campaign to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people died in the civil war.


Updated : 2021-05-06 19:09 GMT+08:00