An internal United Nations report which is damning of its own officials for failing to protect civilians during the last days of the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka, has formally acknowledged the role played by the Channel 4 film Sri Lanka's Killing Fields in highlighting the atrocities.
The critically-acclaimed and RTS-winning film, first broadcast in 2011 and presented by Jon Snow, investigated the final weeks of the war between the government and Tamil Tigers. It featured devastating new video evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The report (link http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/The_Internal_Review_Panel_report_on_Sri_Lanka.pdf) states that the premiere of the film during the Human Rights Council's 17th session in Geneva, ‘is reported to have been particularly powerful in informing Member States of the violations reported to have taken place'. It stated that: ‘much of the information used in the film was obtained from, or had already been accessible to, the UN for some time previously.'
Also screened at the UN in New York and 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.
The powerful follow-up film, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes which aired earlier this year, prompted ‘uproar' in both the Indian Houses of Parliament - the upper house's session had to be adjourned after politicians from the south of the country, which has a large Tamil population, criticised the government's failure to pressure Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes as part of a reconciliation process.
Both programmes and the C4 News coverage of the atrocities in Sri Lanka have been the subject of inordinately detailed complaints to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom . Those complaints have been completely rejected.