Government accused of failing to probe crimes related to war

An investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights andrelated crimes by both parties to Sri Lanka’s armed conflict was undertaken by theUnited Nations Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in2014. The Government has been accused of failing to investigate serious crimes related to the war.Amnesty International said that while the Government has made some progress establishing mechanisms towards ensuring truth and reparation for victims, it has thus far failed to take effective measures towards investigating the alleged crimes and, where sufficient admissible evidence exists, prosecuting those accused of responsibility. The report of the investigation published in 2015 sets out credibleallegations that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity were committedby the Sri Lankan army, including enforced disappearance, torture, directing attacksagainst civilian objects (including hospitals) and civilians not taking part inhostilities, and extra-judicial killings of surrendering combatants.In 2015 the Government of Sri Lanka co-sponsored United Nations Human RightsCouncil resolution 30/1 which called for “effective security sector reforms as partof its transitional justice process” and endorsed the Sri Lankan Government’s proposal “to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.” Amnesty International urged the government of Sri Lanka embark on itscommitments on justice and security sector reform to ensure effective remedies forthe victims and non-recurrence without further delay. Amnesty International noted that the serious allegations against Major General Shavendra Silva, who has been appointed as Chief of Staff of the Sri Lankan Army, highlight the urgent need for thorough, impartial, independent and effective criminal investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the armed conflict.Vetting of military personnel is furthermore needed as an important feature of postwar security sector reform to guarantee against future violations, Amnesty International said.As the Commander of the 58th division of Sri Lanka Army during the final phase ofthe armed conflict in 2009, Major General Silva oversaw the division during a periodin which it was alleged to have committed violations of international humanitarianlaw and international human rights law.

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