A Sri Lankan newspaper says a leaked U.N. report on the country’s decades-long civil war calls for an investigation of alleged war crimes committed by government forces and the Tamil rebels they defeated.
Sri Lankan pro-government newspaper The Island published excerpts of the U.N. report Saturday, days after the document’s three authors presented their findings to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The Island says the U.N. panel found “credible” allegations of a “wide range of serious violations” by both the Sri Lankan government and the rebels, some of which “could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
In the leaked report, the panel urges Mr. Ban to set up an inquiry into those allegations. It also says a Sri Lankan government commission set up to investigate civil war abuses failed to meet international standards. Mr. Ban said last Tuesday he was sharing the report with the Sri Lankan government before its official release this week.
A U.N. spokesperson said it is “deeply regrettable” that the panel’s findings were leaked.
The Sri Lankan government criticized the U.N. report Wednesday as “fundamentally flawed” and accused the panel of basing it on “patently biased material.” Colombo did not permit the panel to visit the country to investigate the near three-decade civil war that ended in May 2009. The report says “tens of thousands” of people were killed in the final five months of the war.
The panel said it found evidence of government forces killing civilians through widespread shelling of populated areas, hospitals and humanitarian facilities in the Tamil-dominated northern region of Sri Lanka. It said government forces also are suspected of systematically depriving civilians of humanitarian aid.
The report also includes serious allegations against the Tamil rebels. It accuses the rebels of using civilians as human shields, killing civilians trying to escape areas under rebel control, firing weapons in proximity of civilians, forcibly recruiting children to join their ranks and forcing civilians into manual labor.
The United Nations says up to 100,000 people were killed in the civil war, in which the rebels fought to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils.