Britain should push for international probe into Sri Lanka war crimes – Parliament committee

[TamilNet, Monday, 10 August 2009, 12:45 GMT]
Britain should press for the setting up of an international war crimes inquiry into the conduct of the war in Sri Lanka, the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has said. Noting that the Foreign Office’s (FCO) designation of Sri Lanka as a ‘country of concern’ for human rights was “amply justified” the Committee said Britain should use the leverage at its disposal to end the “prevalent culture of impunity” regarding rights abuses in Sri Lanka. Noting that the international committee has “both a right and a responsibility” to investigate places where major abuses have taken place, the Committee also encouraged Britain to “work to strengthen international support for the ICC, and for the principle of bringing to justice those who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

Extracts from the Human Rights Annual Report 2008 by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee follow:

“We conclude that the FCO’s decision to include Sri Lanka as a ‘country of concern’ in next year’s human rights report is amply justified by recent events in that country, and is to be welcomed.

“We recommend that, notwithstanding the regrettable vote in the UN Human Rights Council on 27 May, the Government should press for the setting up of an international war crimes inquiry, to investigate allegations of atrocities carried out by both sides in the Sri Lankan civil war.

“We further recommend that the Government uses such leverage as it has at its disposal to encourage the Sri Lankan government to tackle what the FCO refers to as ‘the prevalent culture of impunity’.

“We conclude that the UN Human Rights Council’s May 2009 resolution rejecting calls for investigation of human rights violations in Sri Lanka is deeply regrettable, and has damaged the credibility of the Council.

“We recommend that the [UK] Government continues to promote the view that significant transgressions of human rights committed by parties to internal political conflicts should not be regarded as being solely the “domestic business” of the state concerned.

“We conclude that the international community has both a right and a responsibility to express concern about, and where appropriate to launch investigations into, situations where major abuses have been alleged.

“ We conclude that there is mounting hostility to the International Criminal Court in Africa and elsewhere, manifested most dramatically in Sudan’s refusal to co-operate with the Court. This reflects a deepening division between Western countries and some other countries, particularly those from the developing world, over issues of state sovereignty in relation to human rights—exemplified also in the UN Human Rights Council’s recent rejection of international “interference” in the investigation of alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

“We further conclude that such attitudes, if they continue to spread, may have the effect of undermining the promotion of universal human rights worldwide.

“We recommend that the Government works to strengthen international support for the ICC, and for the principle of bringing to justice those who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity.”


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