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U.N. appoints human rights panel for Sri Lanka

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.N. appoints panel of experts for Sri Lanka
  • Panel to examine accountability issues in the country
  • A decades-long civil conflict ended last year
  • More than 65,000 people died in the strife
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(CNN) -- The United Nations secretary-general has appointed a panel of experts to probe human rights violations "during the final stages" of last year's civil war in Sri Lanka.

The three-member panel will advise Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the advancements of a commitment made by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last year on human rights accountability in the country, a spokesperson for the secretary-general said.

The panel will study the international standards to human rights and apply them to accountability processes that can be used in Sri Lanka.

"It will be available as a resource to Sri Lankan authorities should they wish to avail themselves of its expertise in implementing the commitment," the spokesperson said in a statement.

A decades-long civil conflict in Sri Lanka ended last year.

The war, which pitted government forces against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) -- who were seeking an independent homeland in the country's north and east -- ended last May. More than 65,000 people died in the strife.

The U.N. has been concerned about accountability issues related to the military defeat of the rebels, including alleged "war crimes" by troops and rebels -- allegations both the government and the rebels deny.

"The secretary-general remains convinced that accountability is an essential foundation for durable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka," the spokesperson said. "Through the panel the secretary-general expects to enable the United Nations to make a constructive contribution in this regard."

The members of the panel are Marzuki Darusman of Indonesia, Yasmin Sooka of South Africa and Steven Ratner of the United States.