Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Amnesty International Calls for Urgent Protection of Civilians Amidst Return to Hostilities in Sri Lanka

16 Jan 2008 01:01 Africa/Lagos

Amnesty International Calls for Urgent Protection of Civilians Amidst Return to Hostilities in Sri Lanka

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

Amnesty International is gravely concerned that the end to the Ceasefire Agreement between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) today will lead to an increase in hostilities that will result in a dramatic rise in indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population.

"The end of the ceasefire is likely to unleash fresh violence that will lead to serious human rights abuses, including an increase in enforced disappearances and abductions as a counter-insurgency strategy, as well as unlawful killings. We call on both parties involved in the conflict to return to a genuine implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement and to uphold the protection of civilians at all times," said Catherine Baber, Asia-Pacific program director.

"The withdrawal of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, in addition to the downgrading of the National Human Rights Commission by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions which has brought its credibility into question, leaves a vacuum in the independent investigation and monitoring of human rights abuses. The establishment of a United Nations field operation with a strong monitoring mandate is now more urgent than ever," she said.

"The ongoing climate of impunity for grave human rights abuses and the ongoing violence exemplified by the recent assassinations of government minister D.M. Dassanayake and Tamil parliamentarian T. Maheswaran is a serious concern," Baber said.

Amnesty International calls on all parties involved in the conflict to comply with their obligations under international law to protect civilians. The organization also urges the international community to support the call to establish an independent, international monitoring presence on the ground without delay.

For more information, please contact the AIUSA media office at 202-544-0200 x302.

Source: Amnesty International

CONTACT: Amnesty International USA Media office, +1-202-544-0200 ext

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