UN calls for justice for Easter victims in Sri Lanka – Newspaper

COLOMBO: The United Nations on Sunday called on Sri Lanka to bridge its “accountability gap” and ensure justice, as the country commemorated the 279 victims of its worst-ever attack on civilians five years ago.

The UN’s top envoy to the country, Marc-Andre Franche, told a memorial service in Colombo that there must be a “thorough and transparent investigation” to uncover those behind the 2019 Easter massacre.

Bombers hit three churches and three hotels in the island’s deadliest suicide bombing targeting civilians, but grieving families say they are still waiting for justice.

The dead included 45 foreigners, including tourists visiting the island a decade after the end of a brutal ethnic conflict that had claimed more than 100,000 lives since 1972.

“Sri Lanka suffers from an ongoing lack of accountability, whether for alleged war crimes, more recent human rights violations, corruption or abuse of power, which must be addressed if the country is to move forward,” Franche said.

He noted that the victims were still seeking justice despite the country’s Supreme Court holding then-President Maithripala Sirisena and his top officials responsible for failing to prevent the attack.

“Providing justice for the victims of these attacks must be part of addressing the systemic challenge,” Franche said.

He said the UN Human Rights Office has also called on Colombo to publish the full findings of previous investigations into the Easter Sunday bombings and to launch an independent investigation.

Published in Dawn, April 22, 2024