UNITED NATIONS, April 26, 2011 (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said he cannot order an international probe into the killing of tens of thousands of civilians during Sri Lanka’s final assault on Tamil separatists in 2009. His remarks came after a UN panel said Monday that the Sri Lanka military killed most of the civilian victims of the offensive but that both sides may be guilty of war crimes, ordering Colombo to conduct a “genuine” inquiry.
It said both sides had carried out acts that constitute “a grave assault on the entire regime of international law designed to protect individual dignity during both war and peace.”
Ban said he lacked the authority to order an investigation but that the United Nations would probe its own actions in the war’s final months, after the panel said it could have saved lives by being tougher on Sri Lanka.
The panel’s three experts painted a barbarous picture of the final offensive on the Tamil enclave in the north of the island that ended a three-decade war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Hospitals, UN centers and Red Cross ships were deliberately shelled by government forces, prisoners shot in the head and women raped, they said.