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Sri Lanka response: Rudd fails to call for independent war crimes investigation

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 13 Feb 2012

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, in his delayed response to Sri Lanka's Lesson Learn and Reconciliation Commission report, is out of step with Western nations by failing to call for an independent international investigation into war crimes, says Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon (Rudd media release).

Last Thursday Senator Rhiannon criticised Minister Rudd for the two month delay in responding to the LLRC Commission report, despite him citing the need to wait for the report before speaking out about Sri Lankan war crimes.

 "This is a disappointing and weak response from the Minister for Foreign Affairs," Senator Rhiannon said.

 "While Mr Rudd is critical of Sri Lanka's report, he is asking the Sri Lankan government to go back to the drawing table and have another go.

"Australia should be pushing for an independent war crimes tribunal, joining leaders in the UK and Canada, the European Parliament and human rights groups such as Amnesty International.

"Minister Rudd has shown himself to prioritise maintaining Australia's relationship with Sri Lanka above addressing war crimes and crimes against humanity," Senator Rhiannon said.

On 9 February 2012 Labor and the Coalition joined together 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 (full motion below).

Contact: Lee Rhiannon 0487 350 880

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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