International rights panel quits Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, March 6, 2008 (AFP) – A top foreign panel invited by Sri Lanka to observe investigations into human rights abuses announced Thursday it was quitting the island and accused Colombo of failing to tackle the issue.

The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), headed by India’s former chief justice P. N. Bhagwati, said Sri Lankan authorities did not meet even the basic minimum standards in probing serious abuses.

“The IIGEP has decided that it will terminate its operations in Sri Lanka,” the panel said in a statement. It has taken this decision after due consideration and for fundamental reasons.” International concern over the human rights situation on the island has been mounting amid the government’s escalating war against Tamil Tiger rebels.