Sri Lanka parliament rejects UN war probe
Ruling coalition legislators vote for motion against investigation into war crimes during final stages of civil war.
Sri Lanka’s parliament has rejected an investigation by the UN human rights body into alleged crimes during the final stages of island nation’s civil war that ended in 2009.
Legislators from the ruling coalition overwhelmingly voted on Wednesday for a motion that said that such a probe “erodes the sovereignty, dignity and statute of Sri Lanka”.
The motion was approved by a 144 votes in the 225-member parliament.
An ethnic minority Tamil party voted against the motion. One of the two main opposition parties – both of which derive support from the majority Sinhalese – abstained from voting, while other was absent at the time of voting.
The probe by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights comes after a US-sponsored resolution was approved by the UN Human Rights Council in March.
The refusal of Sri Lanka’s parliament however, is not binding on the investigation that was prompted by allegations of serious human rights violations, especially in the final months of the fighting.
Defeat of Tamil rebels
The nearly three decades of civil war between the government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels ended in May 2009 with the defeat of the Tamil fighters.
According to initial UN estimates, between 80,000 and 100,000 people were killed in the conflict. A later UN report suggested that as many as 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians may have been killed in the last months of the fighting alone.
The government disputes that figure.
Last week, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, named a panel to probe allegations of war atrocities.
Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris has earlier said the government will not cooperate with the UN probe.