Channel 4 commissions second Sri Lanka war crimes investigation
Channel 4's Head of News & Current Affairs Dorothy Byrne has commissioned ITN Productions to make a follow-up film to Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, Jon Snow's critically-acclaimed investigation into the final weeks of the war between the government and Tamil Tigers.
Sri Lanka's Killing Fields featured devastating new video evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity - some of the most horrific footage Channel 4 has ever broadcast
Screened at the UN in Geneva and New York and also shown to politicians at the House of Commons, the European Parliament and key figures in the US Senate Sri Lanka's Killing Fields prompted comment from leading political figures around the world including Prime Minister David Cameron. Yet the Sri Lankan government has so far failed to fully investigate the horrific crimes featured in the film - including videos of extra-judicial executions, the aftermath of targeted shelling of civilian camps and evidence of sexual violence including the naked and abused bodies of female Tamil fighters - captured on mobile phones, both by Tamils under attack and government soldiers as ‘war trophies.'
For this new film, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields : War Crimes Unpunished (w/t), also presented by Jon Snow, director Callum Macrae has accumulated powerful new evidence including contemporaneous documents, eye-witness accounts, photographic stills and videos relating to how exactly events unfolded during the final days of the civil war. Jon Snow says: 'I'm very proud that the new year will see a follow up to our widely-acclaimed documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields. We believe it shows more evidence of official complicity in war crimes and we will continue to show what we find to the world. I hope this film captures, shocks and educates in the same way as the first did."
Despite pressure from human rights groups and the report by a UN-appointed panel of experts which called for a thorough international investigation into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, the Sri Lankan government's internal inquiry, ‘The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission' has so far failed to conduct any kind of rigorous investigation into the allegations of war crimes.
Sri Lanka's Killing Fields : War Crimes Unpunished (w/t) explores the reasons behind the apparent international inaction in calling the government of Sri Lanka to account. Byrne said: "The horrific revelations in Sri Lanka's Killing Fields caused concern across the globe and calls for further investigations so we decided to do just that; to continue the journalistic endeavour to find out the full truth about these terrible events."
Like Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, Channel 4 and ITN Productions will be making this second film available internationally - it will be ungeoblocked on 4oD. Chris Shaw is the executive producer and Callum Macrae is the director. Macrae said: "Just occasionally you get involved in a film which you feel might really make a difference. Our last film had an extraordinary international impact throughout the world. In this new film we investigate those responsible for those crimes; we show who knew about them and we explain just why the world failed to prevent them."
Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, has been watched by over a million viewers in the UK and been watched in over 30 countries on 4oD - totalling more than 455,000 across all platforms and more than 360,000 on channel4 4oD. It has also been televised in Australia, India, Denmark, Norway and Belgium.