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Asia

2011-09-20

ASIA/SRI LANKA - NGOs to the UN: President Rajapaksa ensure accountability for violations of human rights

Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - Ensure accountability for human rights violations and war crimes committed during the final stages of the civil conflict in Sri Lanka; and, in doing so, take the necessary measures so that the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is held accountable for his actions: this it is what - on the eve of World Day of Peace, celebrated by the UN on September 21 - a large group of associations for the protection of human rights ask for in an open letter addressed to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Among more than 60 NGOs that have signed the letter, sent to Fides, there are many active in Asia, such as the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), which gathers 46 organizations on the continent; there are also the large international organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), as well as Christian-based NGO "Pax Romana".
The NGOs point out that, over the past two years, the government in Colombo and the UN have agreed on the need to ensure accountability for war crimes. In April 2011 a group of experts, appointed by the UN, recommended to carry out a thorough and independent investigation. The Sri Lankan government established the "lessons learnt and Reconciliation Commission" (LLRC) that should be a body to help justice. The NGOs therefore call upon the government in Colombo to attend the session of the UN Council for Human Rights, to be held in March 2012, to illustrate the results of this work.
Fr. Rohan Silva, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), Director of "Centre for Society and Religion" in Colombo, explains to Fides: "That of ensuring accountability for the alleged violations committed during the civil war, is an open question in Sri Lanka, and is a raw nerve for society and for politics. There is a lot of pressure from international human rights movement. First of all, clarity is fundamental: it is necessary to appoint an impartial panel to conduct independent investigation. The government should give this possibility: so precise responsibilities can be established". The missionary continues: "It would be an important step towards reconciliation in the country. There are still open wounds: it is time for people to express their feelings, open their hearts and come together, to build long term reconciliation. We are working in this direction". The OMI missionaries participate tomorrow, September 21, in peaceful demonstrations and meetings in Jaffna and Vavuniya, called for the World Day of Peace, to express the desire and commitment to peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 20/09/2011)

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