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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » ECONOMIC CHRONICLE™ » Sri Lanka Plans Probe Into Alleged Atrocities During Civil War

Sri Lanka Plans Probe Into Alleged Atrocities During Civil War

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Quibit


Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics
Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics

In a further sign that Sri Lanka's newly elected president wants to deal with the country's troubled past, a government spokesman said today that a new probe is planned to investigate allegations of human rights abuses during the island's 26-year civil war.

The announcement, reported by Reuters, comes as The Associated Press reports that President Maithripala Sirisena's government would return private land seized by the military to ethnic Tamils in a gesture of reconciliation. The Tamils fought unsuccessfully for an independent homeland in the island's north.

"We are thinking of having our own inquiry acceptable to them to the international standards," Rajitha Senaratne, a government spokesman, told a forum of foreign correspondents in Colombo, referring to the United Nations, according to Reuters.

"It will be a new local inquiry. If we need, we will bring some foreign experts," Senaratne said.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who after a decade in power lost to Sirisena in Jan. 8 polls, had refused to cooperate with the United Nations in investigating claims that the Sri Lankan army committed atrocities against Tamils in the closing days of the civil war in 2009.

Reuters notes: "Without some accountability for civilian deaths, the United Nations argues there will be no lasting reconciliation to allow Sri Lanka to move on from the war that dragged on for decades."

Meanwhile, the AP quotes Senaratne on Wednesday as saying that the new government does not believe that military action is enough to prevent a resurgence of the insurgency waged by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE.

"We don't think you can stop an LTTE resurrection (just) with an army," the spokesman said, according to the AP. "So spending on security will be very moderate.

"Especially for the [Tamil dominated] north, we don't think we need all that security. Our entire concept will be different," he said. "About the lands in the north ... we have already decided whatever acquired for business purposes, other than the security purposes, to give back to the owners."

As we reported earlier this month, Sirisena's government has accused Rajapaksa of trying to launch an 11th-hour coup to stay in power once the election results became clear.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/29/382372857/sri-lanka-plans-probe-into-alleged-atrocities-during-civil-war

Quibit


Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics
Senior Vice President - Equity Analytics

Sri Lanka keen to cooperate with UN investigation
IANS | Colombo Jan 30, 2015 05:18 PM IST

Sri Lanka's government has received encouragement from the UN to cooperate in an ongoing investigation into its human rights record, the foreign ministry said Friday.

President Maithripala Sirisena's senior advisor on foreign affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala met UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in Geneva and briefed him on the new government's policies, Xinhua news agency reported.

The former diplomat, who has termed his visit an "exploratory visit", briefed top UN officials on the policies of the newly elected President Sirisena and his government.

The meeting in Geneva came as Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein prepares to submit in March a report that includes investigations into alleged war crimes to the UN Human Rights Council.

Sri Lanka's previous government under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa had steadfastly refused to cooperate in what it termed as a "flawed" investigation.

Rajapaksa ended a three-decade war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 but his government was dogged by allegations of civilian deaths during the last phase of the war and other rights abuses.

Rajapaksa was defeated in the Jan 8 presidential election by his former cabinet member Sirisena. The UN is trying to verify how Sri Lanka will cooperate on the investigation.

The new government has said it will launch a domestic probe into the war while the UN said the investigation should meet international standards and it will monitor the latest developments.

"We're trying to figure out what it means in terms of cooperation with the UN human rights investigation. And we hope that there is positive movement in the cooperation between Sri Lanka and the UN system on the investigation of what happened," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

In another development, the Sri Lankan government Thursday announced plans to make a special statement on the Independence Day, which falls Feb. 4.

The aim is to reach out to all ethnicities in an effort to "put its bloody past behind and move towards reconciliation," cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said.

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