INTERPOL to assist in Matale probe

The Magistrate also ordered that public notices be issued in all three languages to ensure than anyone who has more information or wants to give evidence in the case comes forward. The international police INTERPOL has been asked to assist in the investigations into the Matale mass grave, the Matale Magistrate said today.The Magistrate said this when the case into the mass grave found at Matale last year was taken up for hearing once again today. Meanwhile another 22 petitions were filed today in relation to the case.Over 150 skeletal remains and human bones have been unearthed from the mass grave in Matale. Forensics had determined that the remains were of those killed sometime in the late 1980′s and the area has now been marked as a crime scene. The Magistrate said that INTERPOL assistance had been sought and once that is obtained then DNA tests will be carried out on the skeletal remains found at the grave site. At least 10 skeletal remains were first found from the site near the Matale hospital in November last year by construction workers when land near the hospital was being dug-up to construct a new building. Following police investigations excavation work began to look for skeletal remains at the site and more remains were found.The JVP had demanded that the government carry out investigations on the mass grave following fears the remains maybe that of JVP members or supporters killed during a 1987-89 insurgency.The UNP, which was in power during the 1987-89 period, said it will back an independent investigation into the mass grave. The UN had also been called to assist in the investigations into the mass grave. In a written statement submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, ahead of the 22nd session last March, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a nongovernmental organization, had said that the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances should, through their experts, study the situation and the conduct of inquiries relating to the remains of the 200 or more persons found in Matale and assist the Sri Lankan government to ensure that these inquiries meet international standards. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Terrorism among key new challenges to protecting civilians in wartime Annan reports

The sexual exploitation of civilians, plundering of natural resources and terrorism are all emerging as challenges to the international community’s efforts to protect non-combatants in times of war, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a report to the Security Council released today.The report, the third of its kind by the Secretary-General, focuses on challenges that occur during the transitional phase from conflict to peace, and stresses the importance of protecting civilians throughout that process.The report notes that the UN is working to ensure that the design of peacekeeping and relief operations incorporates protection measures for groups vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, including by UN and other humanitarian personnel.”Men, women and children displaced by conflict or other disasters are among the most vulnerable people on earth,” the Secretary-General writes. “They look to the United Nations and its humanitarian partners for shelter and protection. Anyone employed by or affiliated with the United Nations who breaks that sacred trust must be held accountable and, when the circumstances so warrant, prosecuted.”On the commercial exploitation of resources, the report notes that it is a growing problem that serves to fuel conflict while harming the security of the civilian population. “Individuals and companies take advantage of, maintain and have even initiated armed conflicts in order to plunder destabilized countries to enrich themselves, with devastating consequences for civilian populations,” Mr. Annan observes.The Secretary-General says that terrorism must be condemned without reservation, and at the same time warns that the targeting of civilians and the disproportionate use of force beyond legitimate military objectives are violations of international humanitarian law.Mr. Annan also points out that special problems may arise when terrorist organizations become involved in armed conflicts. UN efforts to ensure access to vulnerable populations and to structure appropriate contact with armed actors for this purpose “will be vastly more complicated if those armed actors are engaged in terrorist activities or are seen as being so involved,” he says, adding that the UN will need to formulate clear guidelines for its future work on protecting civilians in armed conflict where terrorist organizations are active. read more