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Last updated: 27 February, 2011 - Published 13:31 GMT
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AI slams international community
An alleged war crime in Sri Lanka (file photo: Human Rights Watch)
AI says the world has failed to take action against alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka
The Amnesty International (AI) has urged the United Nations to play a lead role in ending the culture of impunity in Sri Lanka over allegations of serious human rights abuses.

The Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in particular, says the AI, should call on Sri Lanka to implement measures aimed at ending the prevailing culture of impunity.

“The prolonged failure of the international community to demand accountability for alleged crimes under international law in Sri Lanka has only encouraged official disregard for international law and UN mechanisms aimed at protecting individuals from harm and providing accountability,” it said in a statement.

“The longer we wait, the more damage is done to the fabric of Sri Lankan society.”

Focus on Sri Lanka

In a written statement to the UNHRC, the AI says apart from the human rights violations prior to Council’s previous session in 2010, new and serious violations of human rights continue to be reported.

The 16 session of the UNHRC begins on 28 February.

The session begins at a time international community is once again focusing on Sri Lanka’s human rights record.

Summary of key recommendations
Investigate new reports of abductions, enforced disappearances and killings and bring perpetrators to justice
Stop harassment, intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders, journalists and other peaceful critics
Fully implement recommendations made in successive reports by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and implement recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review in 2008
Ensure the independence of key justice institutions in Sri Lanka
Release all persons held in “rehabilitation camps” or try them
Amnesty International

Sri Lanka refuses to allow advisory panel appointed by the UN Secretary General’s on accountability issues to visit Sri Lanka.

However, Sri Lanka’s Attorney General and the Foreign Secretary have travelled to New York to meet Ban ki-Moon, last week.

“New reports of abductions, enforced disappearances and killings in northern Sri Lanka have had a profound effect on public security in that region and people’s ability to heal and rebuild,” the AI said in the statement.

It urges the Council to call on Sri Lanka to investigate new reports of enforced disappearances and killings in northern Sri Lanka and ensure perpetrators identified are brought to justice.

The rights watchdog accuses the Sri Lankan government of continuously refusing to acknowledge credible allegations of war crimes, despite evidence of such crimes by both the parties “continues to mount.”

The country, says the AI, has not even begun the process of identifying persons alleged to be responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in the final stages of the armed conflict.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the international community to take action against Sri Lanka, argues the rights watchdog.

“The world is still waiting for the United Nations to establish an independent international investigation into alleged crimes under international law, which is an essential step to ensuring justice for Sri Lankan victims and their families,” the watchdog said.

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