The large numbers of people reported killed, abducted and disappeared in Sri Lanka's protracted civil war underscores the need for greater protection of human rights in the country, the top UN rights official said.
Meanwhile, Tamil Tiger rebels destroyed an army patrol craft and the military sank a rebel boat in a battle off northern Sri Lanka on Saturday, a defense official said. Three rebels died and three soldiers were missing, the official said.
International rights activists have accused the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels of brazen human rights violations in the more than two-decade-long war, and have called for a UN monitoring mission to be sent to the country.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour implied she would support such a mission, saying if her office were to send a team here, it would only be to promote human rights and help "establish a more credible and clearly independent voice."
"One of the major human rights shortcomings in Sri Lanka is rooted in the absence of reliable and authoritative information on the credible allegations of human rights abuses," she said at the end of a five-day mission to the country.
"In the context of the armed conflict and of the emergency measures taken against terrorism, the weakness of the rule of law and prevalence of impunity is alarming," she said.
Sri Lankan Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who attended a news conference with Arbour, dismissed any type of monitoring mission.
Instead, Samarasinghe said the government was willing to work with Arbour's office and others in sharing technical expertise and training local staff to face human rights challenges.
Arbour said the government told her of its initiatives to address allegations of human rights abuses, but "there has yet to be an adequate and credible public accounting for the vast majority of these incidents."
The civil war has killed an estimated 70,000 people since it began in 1983. A ceasefire was reached in 2002 to pave the way for a peace deal between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for a homeland for the Tamil minority, but it fell apart nearly two years ago.
The renewed fighting has killed an estimated 5,000 people. New York-based Human Rights Watch said in August that more than 1,100 abductions or "disappearances" were reported between January of last year and June of this year, many of them blamed on the government and its armed allies.
In Saturday's attack, rebel boats ambushed two army patrol craft off the Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka, considered the heartland of the Tamils and a major flashpoint in the war.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a