Australian Unions are calling for an independent review of allegations of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka in the wake of new claims of mass Tamil civilian killings.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said unions had welcomed the United Nations Secretary General’s establishment late last year of an Advisory Panel on Sri Lanka, but investigations must now step up.

She said fresh claims aired on the ABC this week that up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed as Sri Lankan Government forces moved in to destroy the Tamil Tiger army must be independently investigated.

“Unions acknowledge the human costs of the conflict, dispossession and violence in Sri Lanka over the past decade and the advisory panel is a first step towards a resolution,” Ms Kearney said.

“This process will assist in achieving peace in Sri Lanka and be the start to minimise civilian disruption in Sri Lanka.

“We urge the Sri Lankan government to cooperate with the panel and engage in establishing an effective process of national reconciliation to ensure the country moves forward after many years of internal conflict.

“The people of Sri Lanka deserve a peaceful and lasting solution that respects the economic, political, social, linguistic and cultural rights of everyone who shares residence in their nation state, so we are calling for an independent review of these new allegations of human rights abuses.

“It is our hope that anyone displaced by this conflict will soon be able to return to their homes and land to start rebuilding their communities.

“Restoration of a free media and respect for freedom of expression and rights of all working people are essential to achieving a lasting peace in Sri Lanka.  The ACTU also calls on all parties to support the work of the UN Advisory Panel to ensure it can discharge its brief openly and transparently.”