The British Television station Channel 4 first broadcast this report over a year ago, which claims to show Sri Lankan soldiers summarily executing naked and bound individuals,  presumed to be Tamils captured at the tail end of the Sri Lankan civil war.

It is hard to watch, but offers an important insight into the brutality of this conflict:

The broadcast caused a huge uproar among Tamil diaspora communities. The Sri Lankan government claimed it was doctored and simply anti-government propoganda.

Into this debated stepped the United Nations. Specifically, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns investigated the authenticity of the video.

Today, Mr. Heyns told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that “what is depicted in the video indeed happened…I believe that a prima facie case of serious international crimes has been made.”

The next appropriate step would be a credible investigation into these war crimes. The problem, though, is that the Sri Lankan government does not seem willing or able to launch an investigation on its own.  The Secretary General appointed his own panel of experts, which found that awful, awful war crimes were visited upon Tamils stuck in free fire zones.  So far, though, there is not much hope for a real war crimes investigation to take place. The most obvious venue would be the International Criminal Court, but Sri Lanka is not a member, so only a Security Council resolution would permit the court to open a case there.

Justice will almost certainly be delayed for Sri Lanka’s war crimes victims. But these things have a way of not being denied forever. There will be a reckoning at some point. It is just unclear when.

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