HRW discusses Sri Lanka war-crimes in Harvard event

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 October 2010, 12:53 GMT]
In a talk titled "Prosecuting War Crimes in Sri Lanka: “No Reconciliation without Justice” at the Harvard Law School earlier this week, James Ross, Legal and Policy Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), discussed options available for prosecuting war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the war in 2009 in seeking justice to the victims. The event well attended by students and several Boston area Tamils heard Ross describe how HRW exhausted all options to stop the mass killings during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka where more than 300,000 Tamil civilians were holed up along with Tamil Tiger units in a narrow stretch of beach front.

"The efforts proved futile as no-fire safe zones were indiscriminately attacked with the loss of tens of thousands of civilians," Ross told the audience.

Jim Ross explained the actions taken by HRW and other International Agencies to bring to justice war criminals in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, Serbia, Bosnia and Sierra Leone’s Chuck Taylor.

Ross also outlined possible options available for the Sri Lankan Government and the International Community to prosecute War Crimes in Sri Lanka.

Action at the International Criminal Court (ICC) requires a country or the UN Security Council to initiate action. Alternatively, the United Nations can create an International Criminal Tribunal for Sri Lanka along the lines of tribunals set up for Rwanda, Bosnia and Yugoslavia. Individuals can also be charged under universal jurisdiction in other countries, Ross said.

Responding to questions Ross said that while none of the above options sounds immediately plausible in the Sri Lankan case, continued international pressure has yielded positive outcomes in the past.

He also provided insight into the workings of HRW and their interactions with the US, European Union and Indian Governments to bring to justice all those who committed War Crimes in Sri Lanka.


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