UN rights body to hold special meeting on Sri Lanka

GENEVA, May 19, 2009 (AFP) – The UN human rights council will hold a special session next week on the situation in Sri Lanka after the end of Asia’s longest running civil war, a statement said Tuesday.

“It is hoped that the holding of this special session will contribute towards the cause of peace”, said Human Rights Council President Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi about Monday’s meeting, fixed after a call from 17 member nations.

“The Human Rights Council cannot be silent when innocent civilians are caught up in armed conflicts,” he said.

The international community must strive to deliver justice to victims of human rights violations…”

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse hailed the army’s victory over Tamil Tiger rebels in the Indian Ocean island’s north as state television broadcast images Tuesday of what it said was the body of rebel supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Prabhakaran began the separatist drive for a Tamil homeland in 1972 and the conflict has claimed some 70,000 lives.

The UN and human rights groups have partly blamed indiscriminate shelling by the military for causing heavy civilian casualties during its months-long offensive.

But it has also accused t