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UN Urges Sri Lanka to Address Accountability Deficit in Commemoration of Easter Sunday Attack Victims

The United Nations called upon 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.

Marc-Andre Franche, the UN’s top envoy to the country, emphasized the need for a “thorough and transparent investigation” to uncover those responsible for the Easter carnage in 2019 during a remembrance service in Colombo.

Islamist bombers targeted three churches and three hotels in the island’s deadliest suicide attack aimed at civilians, leaving grieving families still awaiting justice.

Among the deceased were 45 foreigners, including tourists visiting the island a decade after the end of a brutal ethnic conflict that had claimed over 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 stated.

Despite Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court holding then-president Maithripala Sirisena and his top officials responsible for failing to prevent the attack, victims continue to seek justice.

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

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

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, leader of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church, accused President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government of suppressing new evidence and protecting those behind the jihadists.

“It is clear that Islamist extremists carried out the attack, but there were other forces behind them,” Ranjith asserted. “We have to conclude that the current government too is trying to protect them.”

He alleged that military intelligence officers engineered the April 21, 2019 attack to aid the political ambitions of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a retired army officer who campaigned on security and later won the presidency.

Thousands of Sri Lanka’s Catholic minority staged a silent protest outside the capital after multi-faith services to bless the victims, including more than 80 children.

Relatives carried photos of the deceased and protested in the town of Negombo, known as Sri Lanka’s ‘Little Rome’ due to its high concentration of Catholics.

Military personnel armed with automatic assault rifles watched as the protesters marched to the nearby St Sebastian’s church, where 114 people were killed in the coordinated suicide bombings.

Indian intelligence officials had warned Colombo of the bombings some 17 days earlier, but the authorities failed to act, as evidenced during a civil case brought by relatives of the victims.

Then-president Sirisena and his officials have been ordered to pay 310 million rupees ($1 million) in compensation to victims and relatives, but the ruling has yet to be fully implemented as Sirisena has appealed, with a fresh hearing scheduled for July.

United Nations pushes justice for Sri Lanka’s Easter victims

Source: AFP/

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