I remember vividly my recent encounter with Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, who angrily dismissed any concerns regarding alleged war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s civil war. Unfortunately for the minister, and luckily for the human rights movement, I am not the only one who is concerned about serious human rights violations that were committed by both the government and the Tamil Tigers during the final stage of the conflict. International concerns regarding alleged war crimes are not fading. To the contrary, this week new pressure is building up to ensure true accountability. This week, fifty-seven eight members of Congress sent a letter (pdf) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging her to press for an independent international inquiry into the alleged war crimes. The congressional action is gaining considerable media attention, with stories run by AFP, AP, BBC and Al Jazeera.
We are still awaiting Secretary Clinton’s response to the serious concerns raised by the US lawmakers. The congressional letter highlights the limitations of Sri Lanka’s sham commission on Lesson’s Learnt and Reconciliation, which started its work today, and which is not expected to produce any more credible results than its predecessors. Unfortunately, Secretary Clinton so far seems to support the domestic commission, despite the doubts raised about its credibility.
We also just learned that the US Department of State will submit its follow up report on war crimes and accountability in Sri Lanka to Congress this afternoon. This new document will reportedly inform Congress what steps – if any – the Sri Lankan government has taken to ensure accountability for any crimes committed.
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Update: State Department report can be found here.