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South Asia

Sri Lanka rejects call for war crimes probe

Colombo says UN recommendations for inquiry into the civil war are "arbitrary, intrusive and of a political nature".

Last updated: 25 Feb 2014 05:13
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Rajapaksa hit back at critics, saying he had appointed a Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission [EPA]

Sri Lanka has rejected a United Nations call for an international investigation into alleged war crimes committed by both sides during Sri Lanka's civil war that ended in 2009.

The UN's human rights chief, Navi Pillay, called for an international inquiry on Monday, saying the government had failed to do its own credible investigation.

In a much anticipated report ahead of a UN Human Rights Council debate next month that could order action on the issue, Pillay recommended an "independent, international inquiry mechanism, which would contribute to establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed".

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration, in 18 pages of comments as long as Pillay's report, rejected the recommendations as "arbitrary, intrusive and of a political nature".

US plans to propose a resolution against Sri Lanka at the meeting and Pillay's report, based on her visit to the country last August, increase pressure on Rajapaksa's government.

Many thousands of civilians were killed, injured or remain missing after the 25-year conflict between government forces and separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in May 2009, Pillay said in her report to the Geneva forum.

'Emblematic' wartime crimes

She said there had been little progress in establishing accountability for "emblematic" wartime crimes, including the January 2006 killing of five students on a beach and the execution of 17 aid workers later that August.

"None of these cases has ... resulted in the perpetrators being brought to justice," she said.

Conclusions of a national Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission had been rejected or ignored, such as its finding that the army was responsible for shelling civilian areas, Pillay said.

"The High Commissioner (Pillay) is also concerned that legal proceedings have not begun against any LTTE suspect for alleged war crimes or other human rights abuses," the report said.

Pillay also voiced concern at rising attacks by Buddhist monks on minority Muslims and Christians and at the ongoing harassment of activists, lawyers and journalists.

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Source:
Reuters
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