Human Rights

UN official blames int'l community, neighbours for failing to protect Tamils

A top UN envoy has accused the international community in general and the neighbouring countries in particular, for failing to protect the Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka's north from getting killed in thousands by the government security forces during the final phase of the war.

"Failure of the International Community (IC) and the failure of the neighbouring countries to address the plight of the Tamil population, has led to the killing of thousands of Tamil civilians under our eyes," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng has said on Tuesday.

Replying to a question posed by Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press "if he considered what happened in Sri Lanka in 2009 (and before and after) to be genocide, and of the work of and reaction to the UN panel in this regard", Dieng has said that it was this failure that prompted Moon to immediately set up a panel of investigation "showing a strong moral courage".

The Inner City Press (ICP) is an independent news outlet reporting on developments within the UN offices. The ICP has been consistent in grilling the UN officials on the issues of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"systematic failure"

Referring to the UN's Petrie Report, which found that the "systematic failure" of the UN action has left tens of thousands of people killed during the final stages of the war that ended in May 2009, Mr Dieng said that the ongoing UN investigation was a direct result of the Patrie Report.

"I can tell you that Human Rights High Commission's upfront initiative is making a big difference today here and there. I hope the whole UN will continue to with this," he said, expressing hopes that the UN member states "will play their role by putting the Human Rights upfront".

"Because, at the end of the day, we are talking about protecting populations who are facing the risk of atrocity crimes. This was something that the world leaders have committed themselves in 2005. I hope that they will continue renew such commitments and translate their words into action," Mr Dieng said.

The Internal Review Panel Report, well-known as Petrie report describes a "systemic failure" of United Nations action during the Final Stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War including the withdrawal of UN staff in September 2008 which removed the 'protection by presence' capacity of the United Nations, shortly before months of intense armed conflict that left tens of thousands of dead.

The report suggested that more than 70,000 people may have been killed during approximately the last 6 months of the conflict. The report concludes with a series of recommendations on how the United Nations can strengthen its protection of human rights in similar situations in the future.

© JDS

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