Sri Lanka accused of lying over human rights

March 19, 2008 (AFP) – The International Red Cross on Wednesday angrily accused Sri Lanka’s government of releasing confidential communications and manipulating information from the organisation to defend its rights record.

In rare public criticism of a government, the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Colombo has been “misrepresenting its findings” to stave off allegations it was behind abductions and disappearances.

The row surrounds Sri Lanka’s use of a confidential report by the ICRC, which did not give a figure for disappearances on the war-torn island, to dispute ongoing allegations that hundreds of people had gone missing on the island.

The Sri Lankan government is locked in a bitter war with Tamil Tiger separatist rebels, and is under increasing international criticism over a spate of murders, abductions and disappearances.

The ICRC, known for its strict rules of confidentiality and neutrality, said it “deplores” Sri Lanka’s “publication and sharing of confidential reports submitted exclusively to the Sri Lankan authorities.”

Turning the tables on the Sri Lankan government, the organisation also said extra-judicial killings and disappearances were part of a pat