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Rudd remains tight-lipped on Sri Lanka war crimes: Greens

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 9 Feb 2012

The Australian government is lagging behind leaders in the UK and Canada in refusing to acknowledge the bias in the findings of Sri Lanka’s Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

Labor and the Coalition joined together today to vote down a Greens motion noting the inadequacies of the LLRC final report and calling on the government to join other countries in calling for an independent international investigation (motion below).

“The defeat of the motion in the Senate today is yet another instance in which Australia is taking a back seat regarding allegations of war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s brutal 26 year-long civil war,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has waived aside growing international concern about Sri Lankan war crimes for months citing the need to wait for the LLRC report. It is almost two months since the LLRC report was released yet Mr Rudd remains tight-lipped.

“Government Ministers in the UK and Canada have been clear that the LLRC report is inadequate and that an independent international war crime tribunal is needed. 

“The LLRC report fails to call for any criminal investigation into allegations of artillery shelling into crowded civilian areas and hospitals and it ignores allegations of sexual violence by government forces, as noted by international human rights organisations and UK’s Channel 4.

“Reports indicate the United States is set to table a resolution against Sri Lanka at the next sitting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva later this month.

“Pushing for an independent war crimes tribunal is something Mr Rudd could easily take the lead on. Instead Australia has once again fallen out of step with international leaders in regards to horrific atrocities committed against the Tamils.

“The time has passed for diplomatic tip-toeing. War crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in our region and we have a responsibility to speak out against it and ensure those that were responsible are held to account”, said Senator Rhiannon.                                                                                                           

Last week Senator Rhiannon joined UK Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden - Siobhain  McDonagh - to nominate the team at Channel 4 that produced the documentary ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ for a Nobel Peace Prize. 


Motion to the Senate

8 February 2012: I give notice that on 9 February 2012 I shall move that:  

1) The Senate notes:

a) The final report of Sri Lanka’s Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), was released publicly on 16th December 2011.

b) The Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd stated that the government would wait until the LLRC reported before taking any further action regarding allegations of war crimes committed during the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war.

c) The Australian government is yet to respond to the LLRC’s final report.

d) Alistair Burt MP, the UK Minister with responsibility for Sri Lanka has said that “The British Government is, on the whole, disappointed by the report’s findings and recommendations on accountability”.

e) The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird has said:

I.             Canada remains concerned that the report does not fully address the grave accusations of serious human rights violations that occurred toward the end of the conflict.

II.            Canada continues to call for an independent investigation into the credible and serious allegations raised by the UN Secretary-General's Panel that international humanitarian law and human rights were violated by both sides in the conflict.

III.           The government of Sri Lanka must demonstrate the principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

f) The Tamil National Alliance, the democratically elected representative voice for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka has called upon the International community to institute measures that will advance accountability and encourage reconciliation in Sri Lanka, in keeping with the recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts.

g) The Report of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka has said “the LLRC fails to satisfy key international standards of independence and impartiality, as it is compromised by its composition and deep-seated conflicts of interests of some of its members”.

h) Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Crisis Group have said the LLRC does not adequately address the issue of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the final phases of the conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

2) The Senate expresses disappointment that the Federal government has not issued a public response to the LLRC final report;

3) The Senate calls on the government to:

a) acknowledge that the LLRC fails to adequately address the issue of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Sri Lankan conflict;

b) support calls for the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council to establish an independent international mechanism to investigate the issue of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sri Lanka, as recommended by the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka.


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