UN News Centre

Jun 262014
 

Former Finnish President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, former Governor-General and High Court judge of New Zealand Silvia Cartwright (center) and former President of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission Asma Jahangir (right ). UN Photos/Stephenie Hollyman, Mark Garten, Jean-Marc Ferre. Three distinguished experts have agreed to advise the United Nations-mandated investigation into alleged human rights violations committed during the final stages of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka.

The experts are former Finnish President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, former Governor-General and High Court judge of New Zealand Silvia Cartwright and former President of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission Asma Jahangir.

“I am proud that three such distinguished experts have agreed to assist this important and challenging investigation,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“Each of them brings not only great experience and expertise, but the highest standards of integrity, independence, impartiality and objectivity to this task,” she added in a news release.

The Sri Lankan Government declared victory over the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009, after a conflict that had raged on and off for nearly three decades and killed thousands of people.

The final months of the conflict had generated concerns about alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. The UN Human Rights Council, stressing the need for justice and accountability, decided in March of this year to open an investigation into the reported abuses.

According to the High Commissioner’s office (OHCHR), the investigation team will consist of 12 staff, including investigators, forensics experts, a gender specialist, a legal analyst and various other staff with specialized skills. It will be operational for a period of 10 months (up to mid-April 2015).

The three experts will play a supportive and advisory role, providing advice and guidance as well as independent verification throughout the investigation.

“Once again, I encourage the Government and people of Sri Lanka to cooperate fully with this investigation which can help shed light on the truth, and advance accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” Ms. Pillay said, adding that the investigation would still go ahead undeterred if such cooperation was not forthcoming.

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Mar 282014
 
UN rights council approves inquiry into alleged abuses in Sri Lanka war

Human Rights Council adopts resolution approving inquiry into alleged abuses in Sri Lanka war. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré The United Nations Human Rights Council today voted to open an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by both the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the final stages of a decades-long conflict that ended in 2009.

Adopted by a vote of 23 in favour to 12 against with 12 abstentions, the Geneva-based Council requested the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a “comprehensive investigation” into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations “with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability.”

The Sri Lankan Government declared victory over the rebel LTTE in May 2009, after a conflict that had raged on and off for nearly three decades and killed thousands of people. The final months of the conflict had generated concerns about alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

By its action today, the Council reiterated its call on the Government to implement the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

It also called on the Government to release publicly the results of its investigations into alleged violations by security forces, including the attack on unarmed protesters in Weliweriya in August 2013, and the report of 2013, by the court of inquiry of the Sri Lanka Army.

In her address to the Council yesterday, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stressed the need to ensure justice and accountability, including through the establishment of an independent and credible investigation, saying: “This is essential to advance the right to truth for all in Sri Lanka and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress.”

She noted that in recent years, the Government has established various mechanisms with the task to investigate past violations. “But none have had the independence to be effective or inspire confidence among victims and witnesses,” she stated.

At the same time, new evidence continues to emerge, and witnesses are willing to come forward to testify before international mechanisms in which they have confidence and which can guarantee their protection, the High Commissioner added.

“This shows that an international inquiry is not only warranted, but also possible, and can play a positive role in eliciting new information and establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed.”

The Council has in the past called on the Sri Lankan Government to take credible steps to ensure accountability for alleged serious violations committed during the final months of the conflict.

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