U.N. to Gather Evidence of Atrocities in Sri Lanka Civil War

GENEVA — Responding to a decades-long push for accountability in the Sri Lankan civil struggle, the United Nations will arrange a workforce of investigators to accumulate proof of atrocities and abuses, amid deepening concern over the federal government’s backsliding on human rights.

The Human Rights Council in Geneva voted decisively to help a decision led by Britain and Canada that gives funding for a workforce to accumulate and analyze proof of abuses and likewise to “develop possible strategies” for pursuing prosecutions of the perpetrators.

The decision is the most recent effort to push for accountability for atrocities dedicated by a guerrilla group, the Tamil Tigers, and by the safety forces in the course of the 30-year civil struggle. In January, a report launched by the U.N. human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, urged “international action to ensure justice for international crimes” dedicated in the nation.

Sri Lanka stays deeply scarred by the brutal civil struggle its largely Sinhala authorities waged for 30 years in opposition to ruthless Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas who aimed to create a separate state in the island’s Tamil-majority north.

The vote Tuesday was a diplomatic setback for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka.

His authorities had lobbied overseas governments intensively in current months to strive to block help for the initiative. It additionally resorted to heavy-handed intimidation of human rights teams at residence and even surveillance of diplomats making an attempt to have interaction with them.

The overseas minister of Sri Lanka, Dinesh Gunawardena, condemned the decision as an effort by Western nations “to dominate the global south.”

Sri Lanka’s earlier authorities had dedicated to examine atrocities and arrange a courtroom with worldwide help to prosecute perpetrators. It was half of a transfer towards accountability and reconciliation supposed to defuse ethnic tensions and cut back the chance of additional violence.

But that course of shortly got here to a halt after the 2019 election of Mr. Rajapakse, who had been protection minister in the bloody closing levels of the civil struggle, when the U.N. has estimated 1000’s of civilians died in indiscriminate shelling by the navy.

The Human Rights Council decision handed Tuesday additionally drew consideration to a deterioration over the previous yr in Sri Lanka, citing harassment and intimidation of rights teams, rising militarization of the federal government, weakening independence of the judiciary, restrictions on the media, and stories of torture by safety forces.

“The world has sent a message to Sri Lanka’s rulers, that they cannot escape accountability for international crimes,” John Fisher, the Geneva director for Human Rights Watch, mentioned in an announcement, “and they should step back now from escalating ongoing abuses.”

The vote by the 47-member council to set up the inquiry was 22 to 11, with 14 abstentions.

The initiative follows, if on a extra modest scale, earlier ones which are assembling proof of crimes in opposition to humanity in Syria and Myanmar that might help prosecution by a world tribunal or on the idea of common jurisdiction.

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