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Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 13:46 UK

New call for S Lanka rights probe

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Colombo

Internally displaced Sri Lankan people wait during a visit by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at Manik Farm refugee camp in Cheddikulam on May 23, 2009.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced

The Sri Lankan government is facing renewed criticism over its human rights record after two international groups doubted its will to enforce the law.

The main target of criticism from both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International is this week's disbanding of a presidential commission.

The commission was looking into more than a dozen cases of mass killings.

A senior government official said justice could not always be delivered quickly and patience was needed.

Criticism

The commission had also been examining assassinations and disappearances, mostly in 2006 as the country slid back into war.

The victims included Tamil students, aid workers, a priest and top government officials.

The judge heading the commission told the BBC that he did not know why its mandate had been ended with only half its investigations complete and that given one more year they could have finished the work.

Human rights lobby groups said justice was not being done and that for this reason there should also be international involvement in investigating alleged violations of humanitarian law by both sides in the final weeks of the war.

But Sri Lanka's Human Rights Secretary, Rajiva Wijesinha, said national mechanisms would suffice for all such investigations.

Even though the commission had worked quite slowly, he said, it had completed some reports and details of these should be awaited.

There has also been internal criticism of the law enforcement situation here.

A usually pro-government newspaper, The Island, on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the police, saying they were only efficient if they had political orders to prosecute someone - but that when opposition or media figures were physically attacked, they were liable to ignore it.



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