UN rights rapporteur urges Sri Lanka war crimes probe over execution video

UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston on Jan. 8 urged an investigation into possible Sri Lankan war crimes after authenticating a video of captive members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) being executed by members of Sri Lanka’s military. Alston said that an investigation by experts in forensic pathology, forensic video analysis, and firearm evidence concluded that the video was authentic.

Alston added:

Given these conclusions, and in light of the persistent flow of other allegations of extrajudicial executions by both sides during the closing phases of the war against the LTTE, I call for the establishment of an independent inquiry to carry out an impartial investigation into war crimes and other grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law allegedly committed in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan government has strongly denied that the video is authentic, calling it a fraud perpetrated by the LTTE. In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “the investigation carried out by a panel of experts appointed by the Sri Lankan authorities clearly establishes that the video is not authentic and has been doctored.”

Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of the civil war by both the government and the rebel LTTE. In October, the US State Department released a report on the conflict, urging Sri Lankan officials to investigate reports of human rights violations and war crimes and prosecute those responsible. While the government of Sri Lanka rejected the findings of the report, President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided in October to appoint an independent committee to investigate allegations of human rights violations. (Jurist, Jan. 8)

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