Alston wants foreign probe

Philip Alston, Special UN Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in his annual report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (HRC), has said that there is a need for an independent international inquiry in Sri Lanka.

He was referring to the allegations that as many as 30,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka last year in the closing months of the conflict between Government forces and Tamil rebels and that grave violations of human rights and humanitarian law were committed.

“In this case also there is a need for an independent international inquiry,” he said. “While the Council rejected this proposal a year ago, there is now a great deal of new evidence which would warrant effective action.”

In many instances, domestic commissions of inquiry had only resulted in “comprehensive impunity,” Philip Alston said. “Overall, the track record of such inquiries is remarkably poor,” he added.

In such cases, the international community will often need to insist that an international inquiry takes place where particularly serious allegations are made and where domestic practice has been “unconvincing.”

To assert in such circumstances that matters should be left entirely to a domestic inquiry will generally be tantamount to an “abdication” on the part of the international community, said Mr. Alston, who cited the recent Israeli attack on the humanitarian flotilla headed for Gaza as one example of such a situation, the UN media unit reported. (Daily Mirror online)

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