The UN’s own report on the subject, published earlier this year, has already described what it terms “credible reports” of war crimes perpetrated by the Sri Lankan government’s army against the country’s Tamil civilians. Channel 4 here provided what it introduced as corroborative visual evidence in the form of eyewitness accounts, amateur film footage, photographs and mobile phone videos.
Watching these films made me retch and I wonder quite what the purpose was of viewers being exposed to such horror. Snow said he believed the films should be made public, but why to the British public? Should untutored members of another nation, one on the other side of the world and with no claims now over its former colony, be the people to bear witness to such grotesque behaviour, watching a sequence of these squalid little films and adding a final violation of the victims’ privacy? Surely they are a matter for the experts, for the international arbiters of justice and human rights. In this instance, TV, with its sensationalising soundtrack and its graphic intimacy, seemed the wrong way to present yet another reminder of man’s capacity for evil