UN probing Sri Lanka 'executions'

UN probing Sri Lanka ‘executions’

September 4, 2009

      The UN says it is viewing with 'utmost concern' a video broadcast on Channel 4 News which allegedly shows Sri Lankan troops executing prisoners. Channel 4 News showed footage claimed to show Sri Lankan forces executing Tamils earlier this year. The images are "horrendous" and, if authentic, are a serious breach of international law. The United Nations’s own expert called for an investigation into footage broadcast by this programme. But there are accusations that the organisation failed to speak out about alleged atrocities committed in the dying days of Sri Lanka's war against the Tamil Tigers.       Philip Alston, who is the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, explained whether he thought the pictures were authentic. He said: "This videotape seems to have most of the characteristics of a genuine article and that in itself is sufficient to impose an obligation upon a government to undertake a sustained, effective, impartial investigation to ascertain the truth. "I think the United Nations is in a difficult situation in the sense that it's really a grouping of states and the government of Sri Lanka has been very effective in terms of garnering the support of a large number of states and that does seem to have made the UN rather reluctant to speak out on these issues. "My own role is not that of a UN official. I am a so-called independent expert, appointed as a UN special rapporteur. I report to the UN human rights council. "I am therefore able to…

Is this evidence of Sri Lankan ‘war crimes?’

August 28, 2009

Channel 4 News shows footage claimed to show Sri Lankan forces executing Tamils earlier this year. Jonathan Miller reports. Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, which obtained the material, said it was filmed in January – when the international media were prevented by the Sri Lankan government from covering the conflict zone. The images in Jonathan Miller's report contain extremely disturbing images. Tonight, the Sri Lankan High Commission denied the government had carried out atrocities against the Tamil community. A Sri Lankan army spokesman also called the video a "fake". Read the response here. For Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority, the end of 26 years of war was something to celebrate. The rebel Tamil Tiger army vanquished. It had been a brutal war – upwards of 80,000 dead. Soldiers, civilians, Sinhalese and Tamil traumatised and brutalised by what they has been through. By January this year, government forces were closing in on a shrinking conflict zone with unknown thousands of Tamil civilians being killed. But independent journalists and observers were prevented from getting anywhere near the combat. There were rumours terrible things were happening, but this was a war without witnesses. However one soldier we now know had a mobile phone. And eight months on, his footage of a callous execution has emerged. There is no indication of the ethnicity of the dead men, but the group which obtained the pictures claim the victims are Tamils. 280,000 Tamils remain incarcerated in camps for displaced people. The government says it needs to screen the civilian population for…