Sri Lanka needs UN monitors, says rights group

WASHINGTON, Jan 3, 2008 (AFP) – Human Rights Watch called Thursday for a UN human rights monitoring mission in Sri Lanka in the wake of the breakdown of the 2002 ceasefire agreement between the government and the Tamil Tiger secessionists. The New York-based group said new monitors were needed to replace the Norwegian-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, which is pulling out due to the end of the ceasefire.

“The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission was deeply flawed, but its monitors helped to minimize abuses against civilians,” said HRW’s deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson in a statement.

“Now the need for a UN monitoring mission is greater than ever,” she said.

“Civilians caught up in the fighting will have a harder time finding safety once the monitors have withdrawn.”

The Sri Lankan government announced Wednesday it was pulling out of the 2002 ceasefire pact with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The move came hours after a bombing in the capital and in the wake of a rise in attacks since 1006.

Heavy fighting broke out in northern Sri Lanka between government troops and the Tamil Tigers just hours after Colombo announced it was pulling out of the ceasefire agreement. .