War crimes in Sri Lanka

A call by the US Senate for an international probe into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka was “unfortunate”, the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse said today.

The Sri Lankan government said “well motivated groups” had pressured the Senate to adopt a resolution earlier this week calling for an international investigation into the final stages of the island’s war against Tamil rebels.

“It is all the more unfortunate that those who framed the text of the resolution have overlooked the capacity and strong track record of the LLRC (a government-appointed Sri Lankan panel) to work for reconciliation,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Senate resolution urged an “independent international accountability mechanism to look into reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations” in Sri Lanka.

It came as a top US official warned the island that it could be hauled before a war crimes tribunal over the killing of “many thousands of civilians” in 2009.

In the toughest warning since the end of fighting in May 2009, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, said Sri Lanka risked a forced international investigation.

Sri Lanka has refused to probe war crimes and instead appointed the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). International rights groups have said the LLRC failed to probe war crimes during the 37-year conflict.

Sri Lanka’s relations with the United States were strained in 2009 when Washington voiced concern about human rights as the army killed the top leadership of the Tamil Tiger rebels, ending decades of insurgency.

 

AFP – COLOMBO

March 4, 2011

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