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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Sri Lanka rapped over human rights

Tamils demonstrated in front of the UN in Geneva
The European Union has delivered a strongly-worded letter to Sri Lanka urging an improvement in the country's human rights record.

The EU has criticised both Tamil Tiger rebels and security forces for violations, and has called for talks to end the country's civil war.

Conflict in Sri Lanka
  • An unwinnable war?
  • Timeline of conflict
  • Leading the Tigers
  • The ethnic divide
  • The appeal came as heavy fighting in the northern Jaffna peninsula left over 12,000 people homeless.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of Tamils from all over Europe have been protesting in Geneva over human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

    The mass demonstration in front of the UN was called by European representatives of the Tamil Tigers.

    The UN is currently discussing which countries should be publicly rebuked for human rights abuses.

    EU concerns

    The EU said it had made clear to the government that human rights abuses by the Tigers could not justify excesses committed by defence forces.

    It also strongly criticised recent attacks on private-owned media and independent journalists.

    It said it was pressing the government, the main opposition United National Party and the Tigers to enter into peace negotiations.

    It also backed the efforts of Norway in facilitating the peace talks.

    Investigation

    Human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, said the Sri Lankan Government's human rights record was improving.

    Tamil Tiger child soldiers
    It said atrocities were committed by both sides and that it was particularly concerned about the Tamil Tigers' use of child soldiers.

    The Sri Lankan Government has indicated that it would set up, next month, an independent investigation into the disappearance of hundreds of people from the Jaffna peninsula, four years ago.

    The government has held three independent commissions of inquiry and paid compensation to many of the families whose relatives were among some 16,000 said to have disappeared in late 80s and early 90s.

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    See also:

    02 Apr 00 | South Asia
    Tamil offensive 'traps thousands'
    31 Mar 99 | South Asia
    Sri Lanka's disappeared thousands
    29 Mar 00 | South Asia
    Peace talks in Sri Lanka
    25 Aug 99 | South Asia
    Amnesty urges halt to rebel killings
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