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* Rights group calls for UN intervention into Sri Lanka's mass graves
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 10:42 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 22, Colombo: The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), an international non-governmental organization having General Consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations has called for UN intervention into Sri Lanka's mass graves.

The ALRC, a sister organization of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has submitted a written statement to the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva asking the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances to look into the two mass graves at Matale and Mannar.

The group in its statement has said that the procedures used in the excavation of the two mass graves and the investigations into the skeletal remains are not being conducted according to modern forensic methodologies.

The ALRC says the modern forensic methodologies are essential for the proper preservation of the findings as well as the prevention of the destruction of the materials found in the mass graves in the course of excavation.

The INGO has said that both at Mannar and Matale, the mass graves were dug with bulldozers and such methods are not conducive to proper handling of the human remains that are found in such graves.

"There are no guidelines that have been adopted for proper conduct of excavations, for the preservation of the findings as well as for proper conduct of investigations for the determination of the times at which the burials had taken place and other material elements which are needed for proper identification of the remains of persons which will enable the administration of justice relating to the persons whose remains are found in these mass graves," the ALRC said in its statement.

The mass grave in Matale was unearthed last November at the Matale Hospital ground and 154 skeletal remains were exhumed from the site. Forensic studies revealed that the skeletal remains belonged to the period between 1986 and 1990 during the second Marxist uprising.

Skeletal remains of 55 people have so far been unearthed from the Mannar mass grave since the excavations began on December 20, 2013. The excavations are still being carried out at the site in the former war zone.

The ALRC points out that the methods of excavation need to be scientific and use of equipment and persons who use such equipment for excavations and handling of findings are not kept with the standards required.

The INGO complaining that the government has made no attempt to improve the laws relating to these matters and also to provide for the proper methodologies for these purposes, called on the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances to look into the two mass graves at Matale and Mannar and also consult the forensic experts and judicial medical officers regarding the problems associated with the conduct of these investigations.

"Without interventions from the United Nations Human Rights agencies it is unlikely that there will be the proper development of laws and procedures and the allocation of resources enabling proper excavations and investigations relating to mass graves," the ALRC said.

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