MAPW calls for Sri Lanka war crimes investigation


MAPW has urged the Australian government to push strongly for independent international investigations into war crimes suspected of having been committed in the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009.

Allegations of war crimes committed by both sides during the war, and on a very large scale by Sri Lankan government forces, have been made since the time of the war. Distressing and compelling footage that strongly supports the allegations was broadcast by the ABC’s Four Corners program last night, July 4. MAPW and many other bodies have previously called for independent international investigations into these allegations, but the calls have been largely ignored.

MAPW spokesperson Dr Sue Wareham said that such calls can be ignored no longer, and the Australian government should take a strong role in promoting the necessary investigations into the actions of both sides. In a statement to Parliament on 14 September 2009, then Foreign Minister Stephen Smith stated that it is “important that allegations of human rights abuses [in Sri Lanka] be deailt with through a credible and independent process”. Smith also referred to Australia’s long-standing relationship as “a friend of Sri Lanka”.

“How much longer is the Australian government going to wait for such a process to occur?” Dr Wareham asked. “If our friendship with another government softens our approach to alleged war crimes, as it seems to be doing, that makes a mockery of Australia’s commitment to international law. It also increases the likelihood that future war crimes will be committed with impunity.”

“It seems that Australia’s approach to war crimes depends on the identity of the criminal”, Dr Wareham said.

  • Call the MAPW office on 03 9023 1958 for contacts for media comment.