Sri Lanka rights probe is flawed, top panel says

COLOMBO, Sept 19, 2007 (AFP) – A top international panel on Wednesday accused Sri Lanka of failing to honour promises to investigate grave human rights violations and accused the government of a virtual cover-up. The 11-member International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) said a government probe into 16 high-profile cases, including mass murder, had failed to make headway since being launched in November 2006.

“The IIGEP concludes that the investigation and inquiry process to date fails to comply effectively with international norms and standards,” a statement said.

The group asked a Presidential Commission of Inquiry to take urgent steps to address the concerns, including serious conflict of interest by hiring state lawyers to look into the collusion of state employees in atrocities.

“The IIGEP reiterates its opposition to the leading role of the officers of the (state) Attorney General’s Department in the Panel of Counsel to the Commission, which involves serious conflicts of interest.

“This situation lacks transparency and compromises both national and international standards of independence and impartiality that are central to the credibility of and public confidence in the Com

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