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Sri Lanka: Ban concerned over rising violence ahead of presidential polls

20 January 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his concern over growing violence in Sri Lanka, including the reported killings of political activists, as the country’s people prepare to head to the polls to elect a new president.

Mr. Ban called on all Sri Lankan parties and their supporters to refrain from violence, abide by the electoral laws and rules, and avoid provocative actions both during and after the election period, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

A decades-long conflict between the Government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) came to a close in May last year.

“The peaceful conduct of the first post-conflict national election is of the highest importance for long term peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” the Secretary-General stressed.

Earlier this month, an independent United Nations human rights expert said there are strong indications that the video of alleged extrajudicial executions by Sri Lankan soldiers that aired last August on British television is authentic, calling for an inquiry into possible war crimes committed during the conflict with Tamil rebels.

Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, commissioned three experts in forensic pathology, forensic video analysis, and firearm evidence to examine the video, after concluding that the investigations carried out by the Government had not been thorough or impartial.

“The conclusion clearly is that the video is authentic,” he said. “I have therefore called on the Government of Sri Lanka to respond to these allegations.”

The Government has categorically denied the allegations raised by the video, which purportedly depicts the extrajudicial execution of two naked and helpless Tamil men by the Sri Lankan military and the presumed prior executions of others.

It had commissioned four separate investigations which concluded that the video was a fake. However, Mr. Alston had pointed out that two of the Government’s experts looking into the matter were members of the Sri Lankan Army, the body whose actions have been called into question.

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