UN Human Rights Council calls for Sri Lanka civil war accountability

10/1/2015

The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday approved by consensus a resolution aimed to increase accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. The resolution largely supports the Sri Lankan government’s desire to prosecute alleged abuses from its 26-year-long civil war using a domestic rather than an international mechanism.

Sri Lanka's civil war ended in 2009 when government forces defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, who had been fighting to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils. At least 80,000 people were killed, and possibly many more, including up to 40,000 civilians in the last month of the war, according to U.N. estimates.

This issue of international involvement in any future war crimes panel had led the Sri Lankan government to vehemently object to previous U.N. efforts to push for accountability as foreign interference. A comprehensive U.N. investigation report, released last month, called for a “hybrid special court” including judges, prosecutors and investigators from outside Sri Lanka. The government of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who took office in January, has been more open to pursuing accountability than that of his predecessor, but he has remained insistent on avoiding direct international involvement in war crimes prosecutions.

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