Sri Lanka "runs out of time" for investigation
Sri Lankan government ended the investigation into human right abuses during the war with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This decision came despite call from various human rights groups request to allow probe into war crimes.
A Sri Lankan government investigation into human rights abuses during its war with Tamil Tiger rebels has been disbanded with more than half of its cases unresolved, an official said Tuesday.
The decision came as the government brushed off demands for an international investigation into the final ferocious battles of the war, which ended last month after the military routed the rebels in an offensive the United Nations says killed more than 7,000 civilians.
This commission was formed two years back under the international pressure. The chair of the commission stated that the commission had ran out of time and one more year would have helped. Even the usual government spokesperson on these matter had no idea as to why the inquiry ended.
A presidential commission of inquiry was established two years ago under intense international pressure to investigate earlier claims of abuses in the war. It was assigned 16 cases of alleged abuses by both sides, including the 2006 execution-style slaying of 17 aid workers for the French organization Action Against Hunger.
Nissanka Udalagama, a former Supreme Court justice who chaired the commission, said it had only completed work on seven of the assigned cases by the time its mandate expired Sunday. Extensions had been routinely granted in the past, but not this time. Instead, the commission was dissolved, he said.
"We ran out of time," he said. "If we had gotten another year, probably we could have done it."
It was not clear why the inquiry was ended.
"I have no idea what the reasoning is," said Rajiva Wijesinha, the secretary in the country's Human Rights Ministry who usually serves as a government spokesman in such matters.
Call for investigation by the international commission was rejected by the government stating it would violate its sovereignty. The commission was unable to identify the perpetrators, but the commission think that security forces might were responsible in some cases.
The London-based rights group called for the establishment of an international commission to investigate allegations of recent human rights violations. The government has repeatedly rejected such calls as a violation of its sovereignty.
Udalagama said even in the cases the commission completed, it was often unable to identify the perpetrators.
In the killing of the 17 aid workers, "we are unable to pinpoint and tell exactly who it is, but there are certain possibilities," he said.
In the slaying of five young people in the eastern city of Trincomalee, he said, "What we think is that someone in uniform did it," implicating the security forces.