'Sri Lanka not willing to act against violence perpetrators'

Published: 03rd August 2012 11:36 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd August 2012 11:37 PM   |  A+A-


Human Rights Watch today accused the Sri Lankan Government of being "unwilling" to take action against those responsible for atrocities on ethnic Tamils during the civil war, citing its failure to bring to book those responsible for slaying of 17 aid workers six years ago.

"The sixth anniversary of the summary executions of 17 aid workers has brought the Sri Lankan government no closer to obtaining justice for the victims," said James Ross, legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch.

17 aid workers -- 16 Tamils and one Muslim -- were "executed" by gunmen in their office in Mutur town in Trincomalee district in eastern Sri Lanka on August 4, 2006.

The killings followed the high-voltage battle between Sri Lankan Army and the then powerful Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for control of the vital town.

"President (Mahinda) Rajapaksa's callous indifference to the suffering of the aid workers' families will be a sad hallmark of his administration," he said.

Ross noted that the workers were assisting the survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsumani that wreaked havoc in Sri Lanka and other South-East Asian countries.

In July 2009, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, created in November 2006 to investigate 16 major cases of human rights abuse, exonerated the army and navy in slayings, instead blaming the LTTE, he noted.

Sri Lankan Government is accused of human rights violations in the last phase of the civil war that finally saw the annihilation of the rebel LTTE with the death of its once feared leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Western countries like the UK and US had introduced resolutions in the UN Human Rights Council censuring the Sri Lankan Government on the alleged human rights violations.

Governments concerned about impunity for serious human rights abuses in Sri Lanka should publicly support an independent international mechanism, the Human Rights Watch said.

"Governments that demanded action at the UN Human Rights Council should not be mollified by the Sri Lankan government's tepid proposal to pursue criminal inquiries," Ross said.


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