UN pushes justice for Sri Lanka’s Easter victims

Published April 22, 2024
Negombo (Sri Lanka): Catholic nuns carry photos as they pay tribute to the victims killed in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings at Katuwapitiya St. Sebastian’s Church.—AFP
Negombo (Sri Lanka): Catholic nuns carry photos as they pay tribute to the victims killed in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings at Katuwapitiya St. Sebastian’s Church.—AFP

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

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

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

Among the dead were 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 a continuing accountability deficit, be it 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 victims were still seeking justice despite the country’s Supreme Court holding the then president Maithripala Sirisena and his top officials responsible for failing to prevent the attack.

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

He said the UN Human Rights office has also called on Colombo to publish the complete findings of previous inquiries into the Easter Sunday bombings and to establish an independent investigation.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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