Sri Lanka faces censure at US rights body

COLOMBO, March 26, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lanka faces fresh condemnation at the United Nations’ top human rights body this week in a move that observers say could lead to an international criminal investigation for war crimes. A US-led resolution demanding accountability for thousands of deaths of ethnic Tamil civilians five years ago is almost certain to be adopted at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

President Mahinda Rajapakse has launched a diplomatic offensive to drum up support from smaller nations, but officials privately admit that it is a big ask given that even neighbouring India is siding with the US.

Rajapakse, who has tightened his grip on power after crushing Tamil separatists and declaring an end to 37 years of ethnic bloodshed in May 2009, feels he is being unfairly targeted by Western nations.

“This is like Cassius Clay using a schoolboy as a punching bag,” Rajapakse said in a recent reference to the former heavyweight boxing champion, Muhammad Ali.

Sri Lanka regards China and Russia as allies who will block any Security Council resolution, but the two permanent members have no veto at the UNHRC where a simple majority is sufficient to approve a censure motion.

The draft re