Amnesty seeks safety guarantees
[TamilNet, Friday, 30 October 1998, 00:08 GMT]
Amnesty International, the London based human rights organisation said today that the Sri Lankan government "must guarantee" the safety of forensic experts to enable international observers to participate in the exhumations of the alleged mass graves at Chemmani.
In a press release issued today, Amnesty welcomed the Sri Lankan Attorney General's invitation to send a forensic expert to observe the exhumations at Chemmani, Jaffna.
However, Amnesty warned the operation "was being held up by the government's failure so far to provide assurances of full cooperation and security for all those participating in the exhumations".
Amnesty said it had recently met with the Attorney General and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence, police and the government sponsored Human Rights Commission (HRC) regarding the pending exhumations.
The Attorney General had told Amnesty that "a lot of preparatory work had been done" and said that part of the delay was due to fears for the safety of local forensic experts and of the soldiers who are to point out the locations of the graves.
The soldiers had said to have given statements regarding the mass graves to the HRC. The HRC told Amnesty International that after finding the allegations of the soldiers to be credible, it had requested the United Nations (UN) for international experts to assist local forensic experts with the exhumations.
The HRC had then written to the Sri Lankan President seeking guaranteed protection for any foreign forensic officials, but had not yet received a response said Amnesty.
Amnesty International said it had also had discussions recently with a representative of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in London about the Chemmani mass graves and had sought assurances from the LTTE leadership for the safety of the forensic experts and others involved in the exhumations and investigations. These assurances are still awaited said Amnesty.
The Chemmani mass graves are believed to contain the bodies of between 300 and 400 Tamil people who disappeared after being arrested by the Sri Lanka Army in mid-1996.