Robust Security Council Measures Urgently Needed to Save Civilian Lives
May 11, 2009

(New York) - Japan needs to "play a more active role" in confronting the worsening humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, four international organizations said in a letter today to Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan. Ahead of today's ministerial-level meeting at the United Nations Security Council, the groups urged Japan, as a council member, to support urgent formal action on the situation.

In the letter, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, Amnesty International, and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, all of which work closely on Sri Lanka, said:

"We believe that Japan, a powerful player on the humanitarian stage and the largest international donor to Sri Lanka, has an important role to play in saving countless civilian lives, as well as to implement aid policies that ensure sustainable peace, human rights and development in Sri Lanka. It is time for Japan to show that it is prepared to shoulder its responsibilities."

The organizations said that both the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government "have shown wanton disregard for human life in violation of international humanitarian law." They said that the Security Council's informal consideration of the situation in Sri Lanka was not sufficient and that "formal meetings of the Security Council must be held urgently so that the Council can take the necessary measures to address the humanitarian and human rights crisis."

The organizations called on Japan "to take a more robust stance on the continuing suffering of the civilian population in Sri Lanka" and "to support action at the Security Council in New York, and to support prompt consideration of the situation in Sri Lanka by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva."

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