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Rights group claims to have new evidence of Sri Lanka war crimes

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] announced Friday that it has acquired new evidence to support allegations of wartime abuses [press release] against civilians by both the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive] during the final months of the Sri Lankan civil war [JURIST news archive]. HRW examined more than 200 photographs taken during the last months of the civil war, which ended one year ago, and discovered several photos depicting human rights violations, including a five-photo array of an LTTE loyalist allegedly being executed by government combatants and a deceased woman in an LTTE uniform whose corpse appeared to be sexually abused or mutilated. HRW holds that this fresh evidence further demonstrates the need for an independent investigation into war crimes violations. A committee established by the Sri Lankan government in November to investigate the abuse has yet to report any findings. The HRW claims that Sri Lanka has a long history of setting up ad hoc commissions to deflect international scrutiny, but the intended goals rarely come to fruition.

Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of the civil war. On Monday, the International Crisis Group (ICG) [official website] accused Sri Lankan security forces of war crimes, claiming that the violence of the 30-year civil war, which ended one year ago this month, escalated in January 2009 leaving thousands more dead than projected by the UN. The ICG went on to state that it had acquired enough evidence supporting allegations of shelling civilians, hospitals, and environmental facilities to warrant a independent inquiry by the UN on war crimes in Sri Lanka during the law months of the civil war. In March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] reaffirmed his plan to set up a UN panel [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of human rights violations during the civil war. Earlier that month, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile] rejected [JURIST report] Ban's plan to appoint a panel of experts to look into alleged rights abuses in the island nation's civil war, saying it "is totally uncalled for and unwarranted."

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