(Colombo-Lankapuvath-May 28) – The U.N.'s top human rights official demanded an independent investigation Tuesday into atrocities allegedly committed by both sides in Sri Lanka's civil war.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told an emergency meeting of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council that tens of thousands of civilians had been killed or injured in intense fighting between the government and Tamil rebels since December. But a majority of the 47 countries on the council appeared unwilling to heed her appeal for a war crimes probe.
Pillay said the Sri Lankan government had an obligation to respect humanitarian law at all times, even when fighting terrorism.
"In no circumstances can the end justify the means," Pillay said. "There are strong reasons to believe that both sides have grossly disregarded the fundamental principle of the inviolability of civilians."
Sri Lankan Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka said it was "outrageous" to suggest the government should be investigated along with the rebels, saying it was like asking the victorious allies of World War II to accept a war crimes tribunal for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
"Just name me one country in history anywhere in the world ... that would embrace such a suggestion," Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka told The Associated Press. "It's outrageous. Sri Lanka has just prevailed over a notoriously fanatical and formidable army, the Tamil Tigers."
Jayatilleka insisted the conflict was a domestic matter in which other countries had no right to interfere, and denounced the staging of the council meeting.
He said no other country would accept such "patronizing suggestions and criticism one week after it has won."
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