Thursday, September 03, 2009

Prove gruesome video is fake, UN tells Sri Lanka

By Liam Cochrane for Radio Australia - The United Nations special representative on extra-judicial killings says Sri Lanka needs to back up its claims that a gruesome execution video is a fake.

A journalists' freedom group released the video last week and it appears to show two bound and blindfolded prisoners being shot in the back of the head as the gunmen laugh.

The footage, taken with a mobile phone camera, also shows another six men who appear to have been executed in this way.

The Sri Lankan army says the video is a fake, designed to discredit the security forces.

But special UN representative Philip Alston says: "The responsibility is on the government of Sri Lanka to demonstrate that a video of this quality and this apparent authenticity is, in fact, a fake.

"It is certainly not getting us anywhere to simply dismiss it out of hand."

Mr Alston, speaking from Washington, said despite an official news blackout as fighting raged in Sri Lanka's war against the Tamil Tiger rebels, there were "a series of allegations about widespread killings" in the last few months of the civil war.

"Those killings have led to a number of calls for the Sri Lankan government to investigate, to permit an independent international investigation to take place," he said.

"But, to date, there has been no response."

Mr Alston, who answers to the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly annually, said he had told Sri Lanka he wants to visit to probe the latest claims.

He hoped the UN saw great importance in the idea that governments "really open themselves up to some sort of scrutiny, as Australia has recently done in relation to its indigenous people."

He hopes Sri Lanka would be persuaded to do the same.

"The government has come out very strongly, denied the validity of this particular video and also insisted that there have been no other such killings in the last year or so," he said.

"If that's the case, then the government has got nothing to lose and everything to gain by inviting an independent international investigation."


Related links:
Probe call over Sri Lanka killings - Al Jazeera

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