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Sri Lanka: UN concerned over killings of civilians

Sri Lanka: UN’s top rights chief voices concern over killings of civilians

Voicing deep concern about increasing killings of civilians, including children, in Sri Lanka, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged the parties to take immediate steps to defuse the violence, resume dialogue and strengthen measures to protect against abuses.

“These violations are not only ceasefire violations, but also serious breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law,” Louise Arbour said in a statement released in Geneva.

She stressed that the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have obligations beyond the Ceasefire Agreement to respect basic human rights and humanitarian norms – regardless of the status of the Ceasefire Agreement and whether the country is at peace or war.

Paramount among these is respect for the right to life, said the High Commissioner, noting the concerns raised by a UN independent expert on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary killings who recently reported that both civilians and members of the security forces taking no active part in hostilities are being targeted.

“I recommend that the Government of Sri Lanka seek international police and forensic support for investigations into killings to ensure justice and accountability,” she said.

The High Commissioner urged the parties to take immediate steps to de-escalate the violence, resume dialogue and strengthen the monitoring and protection of human rights.

The High Commissioner also expressed concern about recent threats and obstruction to the work of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which consists of Nordic countries and was set up by a cease fire agreement brokered by Norway in 2002. She urged the parties to give it their fullest cooperation and reinforce its capacity to respond to violations.

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