COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s main ethnic Tamil party on Friday urged the United Nations to make amends for its acknowledged failure to protect civilians in the final months of the county’s civil war by opening an international investigation into tens of thousands of deaths.
A U.N. report released Wednesday said the world body took inadequate steps to protect civilians, calling it a “grave failure.” Up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians may have been killed in the final months of the conflict that ended in May 2009, a separate U.N. report said last year.
Sri Lanka’s government has resisted an international inquiry and said it would do its own investigation.
M.A. Sumanthiran, a lawmaker for the Tamil National Alliance, said that the U.N. must investigate the civilian deaths as a way to make amends for its failures.
“They (U.N) must take steps to put right what went wrong even after three and half years later by the U.N. system itself,” Sumanthiran said.
“We are renewing our call for an independent investigation. An independent investigation can only be an international inquiry,” he said, adding the U.N. despite its failure must ensure justice to the victims.
Wednesday’s report prepared by former U.N official Charles Patrie has accused the U.N. staff in Colombo of not perceiving protecting civilians as its responsibility and accused their bosses in the headquarters of not advising otherwise.
International human rights groups accused the Sri Lankan government and now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels of war crimes during the country’s civil war.
The government initially claimed it conducted a war with a “zero civilian casualties” policy but two years later it said civilians may have been killed and that its soldiers could be guilty of unspecified crimes.