UN calls for Sri Lanka probe into rights abuse charges

September 19, 2009 (AFP) – A top UN official issued a strong call for “truth-seeking” into alleged excesses by security forces during the crushing of Tamil rebels as he ended a visit to Sri Lanka, a UN statement said Saturday.

The UN has said that up to 7,000 civilians may have perished in the first few months of this year when security forces escalated their offensive against the remnants of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

At a press conference just before leaving the island, Pascoe expressed “strong concerns” over Sri Lanka’s war refugees and said the government had been slow to resettle tens of thousands of displaced civilians.

“We have not seen the progress we expected from that agreement,” he said of a deal between Colombo and Ban in May, just after the government declared that the decades-long separatist war was over.

The agreement was for the speedy resettlement of 300,000 internally displaced people who were driven out of their homes after the end of fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.

“Clearly, the government is making a lot of effort, but we have some strong concerns — particularly the ‘closed’ nature of the camps,” Pascoe told reporters after touring camps wher