Sri Lanka war probe calls for new inquiry

Commission asks government to further examine alleged abuses committed in final stages of 25-year civil war with Tamils.

    The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission was not mandated to investigate war crimes [EPA]

    A Sri Lankan government probe into the civil war against ethnic Tamil rebels has concluded that further investigations of alleged abuses committed in the final stages of the country's 25-year conflict are necessary.

    The report, conducted by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), was hand over to Mahinda Rajapakse, the Sri Lankan president, on Sunday, but it is not clear when it will be made public.

    The commission, which has been widely criticised as biased by international rights groups, concluded that some evidence warranted a new inquiry, according to the Sunday edition of the Colombo-based newspaper The Sunday Times

    The 400-page document "will ask the government to investigate incidents that may have occurred during the final stages of the war", the newspaper reported, adding "information points to prima facie evidence but no names [were] named".

    Government forces and the Tamil Tiger separatists have both been accused of war crimes in the months before the rebels finally surrendered in May 2009, ending decades of warfare on the island.

    'Make recommendations'

    The LLRC, appointed in May last year, was not mandated to investigate war crimes.

    Instead, it was asked to find out why a Norwegian-brokered 2002 truce failed and to recommend ways to prevent the island from falling back to ethnic conflict.

     About 4,000 Sri Lankans are returning home after years spent in refugee camps [Al Jazeera]

    In an interview with Al Jazeera, Rajiva Wijesinha, a Sri Lankan MP and the secretary-general of the government secretariat for coordinating the peace process, said there was a "misconception" that the commission was a war crime tribunal.

    He insisted it was simply a "reconciliation commission" with the main aim of making recommendations for the future.

    "The commission just looked at prima facie evidence. I think, to my mind, what it will look at is something it put in its interim report which is to explore things like disappearances and the missing," Wijesinha said.

    The Sunday Times reported that the LLRC described a documentary by Britain's Channel 4 television, which allegedly showed government troops executing suspected Tamil rebels, as a "total fabrication".

    A separate report in April by a panel commissioned by Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general, found "credible allegations" of war crimes committed by both sides.

    Colombo denied the claims, maintaining that government troops did not kill a single civilian.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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