Sri Lanka rights advisors quit panel in protest

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Colombo, Oct 15: Four Sri Lankan activists resigned from a government panel on human rights, saying they had been unable to prevent widespread abuses in the war ravaged island.

The resignations came as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, ended a visit at the weekend, saying a large number of reported killings, abductions and disappearances remained unresolved.

''We were not achieving anything.....We served the committee for one and half years, the human rights situation is getting worse,'' said Rohan Edrisinha, one of the activists who quit the government's advisory panel.

''We began to realise that in a sense serving in an advisory committee wasn't really yielding any concrete results from the ground when it comes to human rights issues,'' he said.

Rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed or abducted in Sri Lanka since last year, when a civil war that has killed around 70,000 people since 1983 resumed after a near four-year lull.

Elements of the military, paramilitaries and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have all been accused of abuses.

But the Sri Lankan government says reports of abuses by its security forces are overblown and designed to tarnish its image. It has slammed foreign governments and rights groups for the criticism.

''I don't know wether its due to a personal agenda, but minister concerned has invited them to rejoin. They have the right to take a decision as its their democratic decision,'' said military spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella, when asked about the resignations of the four members.


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