Foreign experts slam Sri Lanka over slow rights probe

June 11, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka was Monday accused of dragging its feet despite a promise to tackle major human rights violations, as Western diplomats warned they will deny visas to security personnel linked to abuses. An 11-member panel of international experts said a presidential commission of inquiry into cases including the massacre of aid workers had failed to make headway since it was launched more than six months ago.

“We remain concerned that current measures taken by the government and the commission to address issues such as the independence of the commission, timeliness and witness protection are not adequate,” the panel said in an eight-page report.

Retired Indian chief justice P.N. Bhagwati said in the report that there was “hardly any noticeable progress” in promised investigations into what the Colombo government itself had acknowledged were grave human rights violations.

The high profile cases include the massacre of 17 aid workers employed by the French charity, Action Against Hunger, in August last year.

France’s new Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, also a member of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), had earlier said the panel would be critical if Sri