47 lawmakers write to Clinton, seek credible probe in SL war

US lawmakers said many advocates for human rights have called for a probe.

Last Updated: Dec 20, 2010, 00:32 AM IST

Washington: Nearly four dozen US
lawmakers have asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to
intensify efforts to achieve a credible and accountable UN
probe into alleged human rights violations during the last
phase of Sri Lanka`s military operation against LTTE.

The United States holds the presidency of the United
Nations Security Council for the month of December.

"We urge the United States to work with the Security
Council during our time as President to formalise a credible
and effective process for achieving accountability for crimes
committed at the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka," said a
letter to Clinton signed by 30 Members of Congress and 17
Senators.

The UN Secretary-General has appointed a `Panel of
Experts` that will advise him on the issue of accountability
with regard to any alleged violations of international human
rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the
conflict in Sri Lanka, with a 4-month mandate for action, the
letter said.

"For this panel to investigate in sufficient detail
and to arrive at substantive and meaningful recommendations
for human rights `accountability processes` that can be
implemented within the UN or other appropriate international
mechanism will require the support and active involvement of
the Security Council," the lawmakers said.

The lawmakers said the UN has had difficulty
addressing important issues in Sri Lanka as it had to withdraw
its personnel from the conflict areas where 400,000 people
were in dire need during the last stages of the conflict.

"Neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly
addressed the crisis of the last few months of conflict. The
United Nations Human Rights Council met for an emergency
special session on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka in
May 2009, the letter said.

It said the Council members had found that the matter
was an internal affair of Sri Lanka, and adopted a resolution
"welcoming... efforts by the Government to ensure the safety
and security of all Sri Lankans and to bring permanent peace
to the country".

The US lawmakers said advocates for human rights such
as Amnesty International, International Crisis Group and Human
Rights Watch have all separately called for a credible,
independent international investigation.

They cited a joint letter written by human rights
groups on October 14, 2010 to the Sri Lankan government in
which they said that Sri Lanka today "has no credible domestic
mechanisms able to respond effectively to serious human rights
violations".

PTI