Sri Lanka appeals to UN to delay its report on war crimes, assures internal probe
A file picture of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Asserting that the new government will carry out an internal probe into alleged war crimes committed towards the end of its nearly three decades-long civil war, Sri Lanka has appealed to the United Nations to delay its report on the violations.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday urged the UN to postpone the publication of the its investigation report as he claimed that the government was not in denial of the violations like the previous regime, reported PTI. Ahead of his talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Samaraweera said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “We are in the process of trying to set up this internal domestic mechanism.”
However, he denied assertions that it was an attempt to to buy time. We are hoping they could hold on to it until our mechanism is in place, he said, adding that the domestic probe would be set up and will be functional in about two months.
Samaraweera is on his first visit to the United States after the Maithripala Sirisena-led government took office last month after decimating Mahinda Rajapaksa who had vehemently resisted cooperation with the UN mandated probe. President Sirisena, earlier this month, had pledged to work with the UN and promised national reconciliation with the Tamil minority.
Once the report is finalised, we are hoping they can refer it to our domestic mechanism for action. Unlike previous government, we believe such violations have happened, Samaraweera asserted. We are ready to ensure that those who have violated human rights in Sri Lanka will be brought to justice through such a mechanism.
But to ensure that it is done in a credible manner we are also looking at technical assistance from the international community, he said. Sri Lanka has been subject to three UNHRC resolutions in 2012, 2013 and 2014 over alleged rights abuses by government troops during the last phase of the war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The last one prescribed an international probe into the alleged rights violations.
According to UN estimates, more than 40,000 civilians were killed in Lanka during the final phase of the conflict that ended in 2009. The Sri Lankan government disputes the UN figure. Rajapaksa ruled since 2005 and is credited with ending the LTTE separatist war. His effort to win an unprecedented third term ended in a disaster with Sirisena, a defector from his own party, toppling him with support from joint opposition, ending a ten-year rule.