Independent panel monitoring rights abuse probe in Sri Lanka resigns in frustration
Thu March 6, 2008 07:54 EST .
RAVI NESSMAN - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) An international advisory panel said Thursday it was resigning over Sri Lanka - 's refusal to properly investigate alleged human rights abuses, while a new report blamed the government for the abductions of hundreds of people. In a written response, Attorney General C.R. De Silva accused the group of working against Sri Lanka - 's interests and trying to rally international condemnation of the country.
He also denied the panel had the right to disband itself, and said Rajapaksa would simply appoint new foreign experts ``who are likely to work according to the mandate of the (panel) and in constructive partnership with the commission of inquiry.''
The international panel's resignation came as New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report accusing the government and allied militias of abducting hundreds of people in the past two years.
``President Mahinda Rajapaksa, once a rights advocate, has now led his government to become one of the world's worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances,'' Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Cabinet minister Keheliya Rambukwella denied the government was behind the abductions, blaming them on other armed groups. He pointed to a one-man presidential commission investigating the problem as proof the government was taking it seriously.
The commission said Wednesday that no security forces were involved in any of the 525 reported abductions it studied.
Human Rights Watch said government forces were involved in most of the 99 abductions it documented out of the hundreds reported.
Most of those taken were Tamils with alleged ties to the rebels, though many journalists, clergy, educators and human rights workers also disappeared and are presumed dead, the report said.
Violence continued Thursday as pro-rebel lawmaker Kiddinan Sivanesan, 51, and his driver were killed by a roadside bomb as they traveled through rebel-held territory in northern Sri Lanka - . He was the third lawmaker from the Tamil National Alliance killed since December 2005.
Tamil rebels have been fighting since 1983 for an independent state in the north and east for minority ethnic Tamils, after decades of discrimination by majority Sinhalese-dominated governments. The fighting has killed more than 70,000 people.Discuss this story
Published: Thu Mar 6 08:45:50 EST 2008