LTTE leader Prabhakaran son Balachandran's killing: US to introduce human rights resolution

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 20 2013, 16:12pm hrs
Deeply concerned about allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in Sri Lanka over the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran's 12-year-old son Balachandran's killing, the US said that it plans to introduce its own resolution on the issue at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

"We continue to be deeply concerned by allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in Sri Lanka," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.

"At the end of this conflict, we support a full accounting for all who are engaged in acts that violated international humanitarian law," Nuland said.

She welcomed the report by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay noting the strong concern about the government of Sri Lanka's lack of action to address these long-standing issues of reconciliation and accountability.

"We plan to introduce our own resolution on this into the Human Rights Council," Nuland said.

At the corresponding session last year the India-backed US sponsored resolution urged the Sri Lankan government to show progress on reconciliation.

Sri Lankan forces had crushed Tamil rebels in May 2009 after nearly three decades of brutal fighting. The conflict claimed up to 1,00,000 lives, according to UN estimates, and both sides are accused of war crimes.

Sri Lanka while formulating an action plan for implementation maintained that most of the recommendations were already put in to effect.

Lanka dismisses documentary on Prabhakaran son's death

Colombo: A British channel has come out with a documentary featuring the pictures of the alleged cold-blooded killing of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran's 12-year-old son, which was today dismissed by Sri Lanka as "lies, half truths and numerous forms of speculation".

The Channel 4 documentary titled 'No War Zone - the killing fields of Sri Lanka' is to be aired in Geneva at the next session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March.

The pictures have once again raised questions over the conduct of Sri Lankan armed forces during the final stages of the operation against Tamil Tiger rebels and is another blow for the government in its attempts to head off a critical resolution at the UN Human Rights Council.

One of the photos shows Balachandran Prabakaran sitting in a bunker, alive and unharmed in the custody of Sri Lankan troops.

Another picture which was taken a few hours later shows the boy's body lying on the ground, his chest pierced by bullets.

Sri Lankan Army today dismissed as "lies, half truths, rumours and numerous forms of speculation" the pictures featured in the documentary.

Commenting on the pictures, military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said, "This is not the first time such unsubstantiated allegations are leveled against the Sri Lankan forces. Interestingly, these come up as we near UNHRC meeting and die down thereafter."

"No substantive evidence have been presented for us to launch an investigation" he said.

"Unfortunately, it appears that the parties who float such baseless allegations never want these to be investigated or solved. They want to keep them as mysteries in order to tarnish the country's good image as and when it suits their agendas."

Wanigasooriya stressed that if the Channel 4 was interested in having these investigated, it should cooperate with credible evidence and the Army will institute a probe.

The documentary aims to test India over its next move in the UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka, Channel 4's documentary director Callum Macrae said.

India had voted against Sri Lanka at last year's resolution.

"The new evidence in the film is certain to increase pressure on the Indian government not only to support a resolution on Sri Lanka and accountability, but also to ensure that it is robustly worded, and that it outlines an effective plan for international action to end impunity in Sri Lanka," Macrae said.

War crimes in Lanka: Human Rights Watch seeks UN intervention

New Delhi: The Human Rights Watch today sought a UN authorised independent, international investigation into war crimes that took place during the final months of the decades-long armed conflict in Sri Lanka.

In a letter to members of the United Nations Human Rights Council today, the organisation said probe should be authorised at the March 2013 session of the UN body.

Since the Council adopted a resolution on Sri Lanka at its March 2012 session calling for action, the Lankan government has taken no significant steps to provide justice for victims of abuse and accountability for those responsible, HRW said in a statement released here.

"Over the past year the Sri Lankan government has alternated between threatening activists who seek justice and making small, cynical gestures to keep the international community at bay," Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams said.

"The Human Rights Council should dismiss these tactics, end the delays and authorise an independent, international investigation into the estimated 40,000 civilian deaths at the conflict's end," he added.

The HRW statement said that on February 11 this year, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a highly critical report on the Lankan government's failure to provide justice and accountability and urged "an independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law."

The rights body called on Human Rights Council members to support a resolution that would establish an international investigation under the high commissioner's office, it said.

Several independent institutions, including the UN Panel of Experts in its April 2011 report have reported numerous credible allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses committed by government forces and the LTTE cadres during the armed conflict that ended in 2009, the statement said.

However, the government has taken no significant steps to undertake impartial and credible investigations of these alleged violations, it added.

"The authorities have not reported any criminal prosecutions for serious rights abuses committed during the final years of the conflict. Indeed, thus far impunity for these abuses has been total," the HRW statement said.

"Most disturbingly, an army court of inquiry set up by the government to look into these allegations issued a report on February 15, fully exonerating the army from any liability for civilian casualties," it added.

The statement said that on top of the government's failings on justice and accountability, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated since the March 2012 Human Rights Council session.

Rights groups condemn Sri Lanka journalist shooting

Colombo, Feb 19 (AFP) The "appalling shooting" of a senior reporter working for a privately-owned newspaper in Sri Lanka underscores the threats faced by journalists in the country, media rights groups said today.

Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) and Journalists for Democracy, a group of Sri Lankan reporters in exile, said the Friday night shooting of Faraz Shauketaly was the latest attempt to muzzle the country's independent press.

"This appalling shooting suggests that the enemies of media freedom are trying to silence those journalists who still dare to report the news freely," the two rights groups said in a joint statement.

Shauketaly, a 54-year-old investigative journalist at the Sunday Leader newspaper, had reported on alleged graft in Sri Lanka's energy sector. He was moved to a private hospital after undergoing surgery at a state hospital to remove a bullet from his neck.

The newspaper said the shooting at Shauketaly's home in a suburb of Colombo brought back memories of the assassination of its founding editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was gunned down in January 2009 while driving to work.

"Sri Lankan journalists are constantly the targets of threats and reprisals, often by the government," the rights groups said, adding that Sri Lanka was ranked 162 out of 179 countries in the RSF press freedom index.

Rights groups say at least 17 journalists and media workers have been killed in the country in the past decade.

Many Sri Lankan journalists have also fled the island fearing violence.

Sri Lanka lifted a state of emergency in 2011, but media rights groups say journalists have been forced to self-censor their work due to fear of attacks.