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For Immediate Release
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Urgent Need for Human Rights Protection in Sri Lanka, Says Amnesty International

Dire Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding in Sri Lanka as Government-Rebel Conflict Ends, Says Human Rights Group


As the war between the Sri
Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) reaches its final hours and
the humanitarian crisis unfolds, Amnesty International is calling for key
steps to be adopted to ensure civilians and captured fighters are protected.

"The Sri Lankan government must ensure that
its forces fully respect international law, including all provisions relating
to protecting civilians from the effect of hostilities," said Sam Zarifi,
Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director. "The government
should accept the surrender of any LTTE fighter who wants to surrender
and treat humanely LTTE fighters who have laid down their arms. In turn,
the LTTE must also protect civilians and any Sri Lankan soldier they take

There are more than 200,000 displaced people,
including approximately 80,000 children, who need relief but also protection
from abuses in Sri Lanka.

Amnesty International calls on the Sri Lankan

*To allow full access to national and international
humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations and the International
Committee of the Red Cross, to all those in need and facilitate their operations.

*To allow immediate and unfettered access
to national and international independent observers to monitor the situation
and provide a safeguard against human rights violations, including torture
or other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.

*To take measures to protect displaced people,
including putting in place immediately a proper registration process, as
a key safeguard against abuses such as enforced disappearances.

"In addition, the international community
must require the prompt deployment of international monitors to be stationed
in critical locations, including registration and screening points, displacement
camps and places of detention," said Zarifi.

Amnesty International is supporting the convening
of a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to sustain attention
to the evolving situation in Sri Lanka and is calling for the United Nations
to immediately establish an international commission of inquiry.

"The commission should investigate allegations
of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all
warring parties in the course of the conflict and make recommendations
on the best way to ensure full accountability," said Zarifi.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning
grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters,
activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human
rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.