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Mary Robinson tells UN: push for war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka

The former president said today that possible crimes against humanity cannot simply be ignored.

Mary Robinson pictured with former US president Jimmy Carter
Mary Robinson pictured with former US president Jimmy Carter
Image: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

FORMER PRESIDENT MARY Robinson has called on the UN to push ahead with a plan to investigate war crimes in Sri Lanka during the country’s long-running civil war.

Robinson said today that the allegations of crimes against humanity committed by both sides during the final stages of the war “cannot simply be ignored”.

Writing in the Guardian today, the former president cites a UN report which found evidence that government forces shelled food distribution lines and no-fire zones, while the LTTE were accused of using civilians as human shields.

The UN Human Rights Council is planning a resolution today which calls on Sri Lanka to carry out an investigation into who was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Tamil civilians during the country’s civil war. Sri Lanka is planning to block any such measures from the UN, the London Independent reports.

“The UN Human Rights Council has an opportunity and a duty to help Sri Lanka advance its own efforts on accountability and reconciliation,” Robinson wrote in the piece, which was co-authored by Desmond Tutu”. “Both are essential if a lasting peace is to be achieved”.

The Tamil Tigers (known as the LTTE) had fought for an independent state for the Tamil people in parts of Sri Lanka before being defeated by the Sri Lankan government in 2009.

Robinson and Tutu criticised the Sri Lankan government’s own report published last December into resolving the issues raised by the war, saying:

The recent announcement that the army intends to investigate its own actions during the conflict is not the kind of independent inquiry that is required. In the absence of a credibly and independent investigation into what happened in Sri Lanka, the Human Rights council has an obligation to uphold human rights law and international humanitarian law.

Robinson and Tutu are members of The Elders, a group of eminent global leaders including Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter.

Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin killed in Syria >

Previously: Mary Robinson calls for greater access to cervical cancer vaccines >

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