Sri Lanka human rights record criticised by foreign experts

April 22, 2008 (AFP) – A team of international legal experts Tuesday stepped up their criticism of Sri Lanka, noting that repeated calls to improve its record on the issue had fallen on deaf ears. The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) said Colombo lacked the political will to investigate grave rights abuses.

The panel members spoke to reporters Tuesday for the first time after attacking Colombo in a statement last month for blocking efforts to ensure minimum standards were maintained in probing serious abuses.

As their work progressed, the government’s tone “was becoming increasingly disrespectful (of the experts),” British panel member Nigel Rodley said at the briefing.

“They were accusing us of all kinds of nefarious stuff, including making way for an international panel to monitor the rights situation on the ground here. It’s not true, the allegations are baseless,” Rodley said.

The IIGEP, which includes experts from the European Union, United Nations, Australia, Canada, India, France and the United States, was formed in 2007 to oversee a presidential commission of inquiry into 16 cases of major human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

Among the cases