Friday, October 23, 2009

Report on Sri Lanka to US congress

Click here to read the US state department report on Sri Lanka

US state department has handed over a report to the congress detailing incidents that allegedly occurred during the final months of the war in Sri Lanka.

The US embassy in Sri Lanka said on Wednesday that the report to the powerful Congressional Appropriations Committee details incidents "that may constitute violations of international humanitarian law or crimes against humanity and related harms".

'First hand accounts'

The report to the committee consisting of members from all parties has been prepared following a Congressional request.

US embassy in Sri Lanka says that the the information contains "first-hand accounts communicated by persons from within the government-declared No Fire Zones and locations close to the fighting".

It also says that the report compiles alleged incidents involving both sides in the conflict.

During the final days of the conflict between Sri Lanka and the LTTE both parties have been accused of putting the lives of civilians trapped in a narrow strip of land, at risk.

The Sri Lankan military has blamed civilian deaths on the Tigers, saying they are using people as human shields, while the military was accused of indiscriminate bombing.

US Ambassador- at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp told the BBC of credible reports that these acts have killed "thousands of civilians".

"Hundreds of thousands of people trapped in this area were essentially denied adequate food and medical care," he added.

'fabricated allegations'

The Sri Lankan Government says the report appears to be unsubstantiated, and maintains the Armed Forces were scrupulous in protecting civilians.

In a statement the Sri Lankan foreign ministry alleges, "there is a track record of vested interests endeavouring to bring the Government of Sri Lanka into disrepute, through fabricated allegations and concocted stories".

The United Nations has previously raised concerns about human rights violations in Sri Lanka's civil war but the US is the first country to publish an independent third party report.

European parliament

Meanwhile, the European parliament passed a resolution on Wednesday calling the Sri Lankan government to uphold human rights.

In a special reference to media freedom European parliament said, "the Sri Lankan government must cease its repression of the media in the name of its anti-terrorist legislation".

It also called upon the Tamil leadership to "commit themselves to a political settlement and renounce terrorism and violence once and for all".


Related Links:
U.S. Embassy Statement on Report to the U.S. Congress
US urges Sri Lanka to probe, prosecute possible war crimes - AFP
Sri Lanka blasts US report on human rights abuses - Guardian
US report on Lanka’s war on terror will ‘fan secessionist flames':FM - The Island

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