Commonwealth calls for investigation of Sri Lanka war crimes

[TamilNet, Sunday, 26 June 2011, 13:09 GMT]
The Commonwealth has called on Sri lanka to conduct “a full, credible, and thorough investigation” of the atrocities detailed in Channel 4’s documentary, ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’. A statement by Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma’s spokesperson said: “The Commonwealth has long supported the peaceful resolution of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and recognises that genuine and sustainable reconciliation must include investigation of alleged war crimes and accountability of those responsible, and the promotion of justice.”

Without naming Channel 4, the statement said: “The Commonwealth Secretariat has received expressions of concern about the contents of a recent television programme concerning the civil war in Sri Lanka.

“There is understandable widespread abhorrence at what the programme purports to show. These concerns have been conveyed to the Sri Lankan government, and the Secretariat has been informed that the video footage will be given the attention that it obviously merits by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.”

“The Secretariat welcomes this undertaking to establish the facts of the situation, and to complete a full, credible, and thorough investigation that reflects Commonwealth values and principles to which all members subscribe.”

The statement was covered in a front page story by the Sunday Times this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Leader newspaper reported Sri Lanka’s government would take Channel 4 to court over the hard-hitting documentary.

“The Sri Lankan government is in the process of going through the paperwork to file legal action against the Channel 4,” the paper said, quoting Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem, who also said the government will either seek compensation or a public apology from the TV station.

The full text of the statement by the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Spokesperson follows:

The Commonwealth membership is united in its longstanding commitment to human dignity, equality, human rights, and the rule of law – to which access to justice and an independent judiciary are fundamental. Commonwealth Heads of Government have as recently as November 2009 solemnly reiterated their commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also to the values of tolerance, respect and understanding.

The Commonwealth recognises that respect for the dignity of all human beings is critical to promoting peace and prosperity.

The Commonwealth has long supported the peaceful resolution of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and recognises that genuine and sustainable reconciliation must include investigation of alleged war crimes and accountability of those responsible, and the promotion of justice.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has received expressions of concern about the contents of a recent television programme concerning the civil war in Sri Lanka.

There is understandable widespread abhorrence at what the programme purports to show. These concerns have been conveyed to the Sri Lankan government, and the Secretariat has been informed that the video footage will be given the attention that it obviously merits by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

The Commonwealth Secretariat recalls that the Government of Sri Lanka has conveyed in a statement of the Ministry of External Affairs that if the allegations levelled in the television programme are found to be genuine, the LLRC will take due note and remedial measures will be taken by way of legal sanctions.

The Secretariat welcomes this undertaking to establish the facts of the situation, and to complete a full, credible, and thorough investigation that reflects Commonwealth values and principles to which all members subscribe.


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