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On Sri Lanka, As Pillay Urging Probe Goes Online, Ban Invited There in May?

| by Matthew Russell Lee

( February 24, 2014, New York City, Sri Lanka Guardian) As Inner City Press and others reported earlier this month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is calling for an independent, international inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka. Here are three paragraphs from her report, just online by the UN today.

New evidence -- including witness testimony, video and photographic material -- continues to emerge on the events that took place in the final stages of the armed conflict. Human remains are also still being discovered, for instance in Matale, in November 2012, and Mannar, in December 2013.

72. As the emblematic cases highlighted above show, national mechanisms have consistently failed to establish the truth and achieve justice. The High Commissioner believes this can no longer be explained as a function of time or technical capacity, but that it is fundamentally a question of political will. The Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts and the initiatives taken by international non-governmental organizations have shown that witnesses are willing to come forward to testify to international inquiry mechanisms that they trust and can guarantee their protection. For this reason, the High Commissioner remains convinced that an independent, international inquiry would play a positive role in eliciting new information and establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed. In the absence of a credible national process, she believes the international community has a duty to take further steps, which will advance the right to truth for all in Sri Lanka and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress.

73. The High Commissioner reiterates her concern at the continuing trend of attacks on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, particularly against human rights defenders, journalists and families of victims, the rising levels of religious intolerance, and continued militarization, which continue to undermine the environment where accountability and reconciliation can be achieved. She therefore reiterates and updates the recommendations made in her previous report to the Human Rights Council, most of which remain unimplemented.

Where is the UN Secretariat on this? When last Inner City Press asked, Ban Ki-moon's office of the spokesperson said it is up to member states.

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