Rights grps refuse to testify before Lanka war comm

Describing it as "flawed," three prominent human rights organisations have refused to testify before a Sri Lankan commission investigating the alleged war crimes committed by security forces.

New York: Describing it as "flawed,"
three prominent human rights organisations have refused to
testify before a Sri Lankan commission investigating the
alleged war crimes committed by security forces in the final
stages of the war against LTTE.

"Accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka demands an
independent international investigation," said Kenneth Roth,
head of Human Rights Watch, which along with the International
Crisis Group and Amnesty International have refused to
participate.

"There is little to be gained by appearing before such
a fundamentally flawed commission," Roth said.

In a letter sent to the Sri Lankan government, the
three groups expressed their inability to appear before the
Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
(LLRC).

"Unfortunately, we are compelled to decline the
Commission`s invitation," the letter said, noting that the
LLRC "falls far short" an effort to bring about
accountability.

"It not only fails to meet basic international
standards for independent and impartial inquiries, but it is
proceeding against a backdrop of government failure to address
impunity and continuing human rights abuses," it added.

Colombo, on the other hand, has rejected all calls for
an international investigation even the panel of experts,
which has been set up to advise United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Sri Lankan government rebuffed the panel despite
the UN having made clear that the panel is not a fact finding
or investigative body and that a domestic probe remains the
first choice for an investigation.

Speaking at the annual debate of the General Assembly,
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said that Sri Lanka was finally
at peace and warned against any efforts by outsiders to ignite
tensions inside the country.

"We believe that for the rebuilding and healing of our
nation to succeed, the process must evolve from within,"
Rajapaksa said.

"If history has taught us one thing, it is that
imposed external solutions breeds resentment and ultimately
fails."

"Ours, by contrast, is a home grown process, which
reflects the culture and traditions of our people," he added.

-PTI

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