Sri Lanka should permit impartial probe into alleged execution video – UN expert

17 September 2009
Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

A United Nations human rights expert has called for an independent probe into the authenticity of a video of alleged extrajudicial executions by Sri Lankan soldiers, stating that the investigations carried out so far have not been impartial.

Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a statement that he could attest, based on the information made available by the Government, that the four separate investigations undertaken have been “prompt” since they took place within two weeks of the airing of the video in late August.

However, he could not conclude that they were “thorough” or “impartial,” he stated, noting that two of the experts are members of the Sri Lankan Army, the body whose actions have been called into question.

Another expert has previously acted on behalf of the Government, and the basis on which the fourth was chosen as an expert remains unclear.

“The final question that remains is whether the information provided by the Government raises significant doubts as to the authenticity of the video,” said Mr. Alston.

“On this question, my conclusion is that the views expressed do indeed raise several issues which warrant further investigation before it could reasonably be concluded that the video is authentic.

“The only way to do this is for an independent and impartial investigation to take place,” stated Mr. Alston, who serves in an independent and unpaid capacity and reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Government – which earlier this year declared victory over the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after years of fighting – has categorically denied the allegations raised by the 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.


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