A UN report has found credible evidence that both the Sri Lankan
government and the Tamil Tigers violated human rights in the last
stages of the conflict, some of it amounting to war crimes.
But the report, which became public this week, is more harsh on
Colombo, saying most civilian casualties in the final phases of
the war in 2008-09 "were caused by government shelling".
"Between September 2008 and May 19, 2009, the Sri Lanka Army
advanced its military campaign on the Vanni using largescale and
widespread shelling, causing large numbers of civilian deaths,"
said the report of the UN Secretary General's Panel of Experts on
Accountability in Sri Lanka.
Although the report was submitted to UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon
March 31, it has come into public domain only now.
The panel was set up following widespread allegations that the Sri
Lankan military carried out war crimes as it crushed the Tamil
Tigers in May 2009, ending one of the world's longest running
"The panel found credible allegations, which if proven, indicate
that a wide range of serious violations of international
humanitarian law and international human rights law was committed
both by the government and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam), some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes
The government, it said, shelled No Fire Zones where it had asked
civilians to take shelter and even food distribution lines.
"The government systematically shelled hospitals on the
frontlines. All hospitals in the (war zone) were hit by mortars
and artillery, some of them were hit repeatedly, despite the fact
that their locations were well known to the government.
"The government also systematically deprived people in the
conflict zone of humanitarian aid, in the form of food and medical
supplies, particularly surgical supplies, adding to their
"Tens of thousands lost their lives from January to May 2009, many
of whom died anonymously in the carnage of the final few days.
"The government subjected victims and survivors of the conflict to
further deprivation and suffering after they left the conflict
"Screening for suspected LTTE (cadres) took place without any
transparency or external scrutiny. Some of those who were
separated (from civilians) were summarily executed and some of the
women may have been raped...
"Massive overcrowding (in camps) led to terrible conditions,
breaching the basic social and economic rights of the detainees,
and many lives were lost unnecessarily.
"Some persons in the camps were interrogated and subjected to
The report also hit out at the LTTE, accusing it of forcible
recruitment "throughout the war". It said it intensified its
recruitment of people of all ages, including children as young as
"All of this was done in a quest to pursue a war that was clearly
lost; many civilians were sacrificed on the altar of the LTTE
cause and its efforts to preserve its senior leadership."
The end of the war led to the decimation of the LTTE and its top
brass, including founder leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The report demanded a serious probe into the credibly alleged
violations of human rights and the prosecution of those
"If proven, those most responsible, including Sri Lanka Army
commanders and senior government officials, as well as military
and civilian LTTE leaders, would bear criminal liability for