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Tamil Canadians Welcome Appointment of UN Panel

by Canadian Tamil Congress, July 5, 2010

“This Panel of Experts is just a first step towards unveiling the truth behind what took place in the final months of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka,” said Mr. Poopalapillai.  “It is also important to note that many countries, such as Japan and the U.S., have applauded the appointment of the Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka.” stated Mr. Poopalapillai.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

July 5, 2010  

TAMIL CANADIANS WELCOME APPOINTMENT OF UN PANEL ON SRI LANKA   

The Canadian Tamil Congress welcomes the recent appointment of an international human rights panel by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as a first step towards international accountability concerning the gross human rights abuses that have taken place in Sri Lanka.  

The Secretary-General of the United Nations has appointed a Panel of Experts that will advise him on “the issues of accountability with regard to any alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka.” 

The three member Panel of Experts (“the Panel”), chaired by Mr. Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia, is mandated to examine the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience with regard to accountability processes, taking into account the nature and scope of any alleged violations in Sri Lanka and report its finding to the Secretary General.  The Panel is expected to complete its advisory responsibilities within four months of the commencement of its work.  

Unfortunately, the Government of Sri Lanka has stated that they would not allow the Panel into Sri Lanka to conduct its work thereby severely limiting the Panel’s ability to conduct a thorough investigation of what took place during the final phase of the armed conflict.  

"It is not surprising that Sri Lanka would take this position, and deny the international human rights panel access into the country to investigate human rights abuses," said David Poopalapillai, National Spokesperson for the Canadian Tamil Congress. "The Government of Sri Lanka is not serious about investigating what took place during the course of the final phase of the armed conflict, and is preventing the international community from verifying what many international organizations already have stated are war crimes and crimes against humanity." 

Many international human rights actors, including the current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have called for the creation of an international independent inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity that took place in Sri Lanka during the conclusion of the armed conflict. The International Crisis Group, headed by former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour stated in a report released in May, that the evidence “provides reasonable grounds to believe that Sri Lankan security forces committed war crimes with top government and military leaders potentially responsible”. The report concludes that the military repeatedly and increasingly subjected civilians to intense artillery and mortar barrages, “despite the government and security forces knowing the size and location of the civilian population and scale of civilian casualties”.  

“This Panel of Experts is just a first step towards unveiling the truth behind what took place in the final months of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka,” said Mr. Poopalapillai.  “It is also important to note that many countries, such as Japan and the U.S., have applauded the appointment of the Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka.” stated Mr. Poopalapillai.  

The Canadian Tamil Congress urges the Canadian government to publicly welcome the establishment of the Panel and to encourage the Government of Sri Lanka to allow the UN appointed Panel of Experts to conduct its mandated work more effectively by allowing the Panel access into the country. 

For more information, please contact David Poopalapillai, National Spokesperson for the Canadian Tamil Congress, at 416.240.0078 or david@canadiantamilcongress.ca