Sri Lanka: UN rights expert calls for probe into video of alleged executions

28 August 2009

A United Nations human rights expert today called for the immediate establishment of an independent inquiry into the authenticity of a video which purportedly depicts the extrajudicial execution of two naked and helpless men by the Sri Lankan military and the presumed prior executions of others.

Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said he was aware that the Sri Lankan Government had categorically denied the allegations raised by the video, which has been aired this week.

“These images are horrendous and, if authentic, would indicate a serious violation of international law,” Professor Alston said in a statement, noting that the Government’s denial “makes it all the more important for an independent investigation to be set up.

“If the Government’s position is validated as a result of an inquiry, the international community can rest easy and the Government will have been vindicated. There is no justification for not moving ahead with such an investigation in view of the Government’s confidence that such atrocities were never perpetrated by its armed forces.”

Earlier this year Government forces declared victory over the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after years of fighting in the small South Asian country.

Professor Alston added that he regretted that the Government had not yet issued him an invitation to make an official visit to Sri Lanka, despite a number of requests in recent years, but he hoped an invitation may come given the new allegations.

Like many other UN rapporteurs, Professor Alston reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and to the General Assembly and he serves in an independent and unpaid capacity.

 

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