New evidence of war crimes in Sri Lankan civil war

A landmark report, released today, sheds new light on some of the worst alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the final months of the Sri Lankan civil war, which ended in May 2009. This report will contribute to an upcoming meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council where states will decide how to ensure accountability on this issue.

The report, Island of impunity? Investigation into international crimes in the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war, was produced by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre’s (PIAC’s) International Crimes Evidence Project (ICEP). 

The report brings together some of the world’s leading experts on war crimes investigations and international law. It combines detailed, impartial, legal analysis and expert forensic and military analysis with new information and eye-witness accounts. 

‘This is the most comprehensive, evidence-based report investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sri Lankan conflict,’ said PIAC CEO, Edward Santow.

‘The report builds on what we already know about indiscriminate artillery bombardment of civilian areas, the denial of humanitarian assistance to those most affected by the hostilities, and specific incidents of extrajudicial killing, torture, sexual violence and enforced disappearance.’

The report will assist the UN Human Rights Council in considering how to ensure accountability for allegations of atrocities committed in the final stages of the civil war. The report presents an evidentiary platform for an international investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity.

One new eye-witness alleges that, after the conflict, the Sri Lankan Government has systematically exhumed civilian mass graves and destroyed crucial evidence of human remains. This has critical implications for future investigations and highlights the need for urgent action to be taken.

‘The ICEP investigation reveals some of the gravest crimes under international humanitarian law and demands accountability,’ said John Ralston, Chair of ICEP’s Committee of Experts. 

‘This can only occur if there is a full independent and impartial international investigation.’

Accessing the ICEP report

The report, Island of Impunity? Investigation into international crimes in the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War, was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 12 February 2014 (see Hansard).

The report itself can be downloaded here and an executive summary of the report is available here.

Further information and fact sheets…

 MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Senior Media and Communications Officer, Gemma Pearce: +61 478 739 280 or [email protected].


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