Lanka promises to meet deadline for probe into war crimes

Kashmir Times. Dated: 5/8/2015 12:08:49 AM

COLOMBO, May 7 (Agencies): Sri Lanka's new government today said a domestic mechanism will be in place by September to probe into the alleged human rights violations during the final stages of decades-long war with the LTTE.
Foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera said that the domestic mechanism with foreign technical expertise to probe into the allegations of war crimes will be in place when next UN Human Rights Council session will meet in Geneva in September.
"All I can say is that we will have a domestic mechanism in place in time when the 30th session of UNHRC commences in September," Samaraweera told media here.
"We promised the people a domestic mechanism to look into human rights violations. There is a timeline for its setting up. We do have a timeline, we are working according to a timetable even now. I think we will be able to meet the timeline," he said.
The announcement comes days after US Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit to the island warned Sri Lanka that "true reconciliation" with Tamils will take time, even as he praised the "openness" of the new government in efforts to boost democracy, human rights and reaching out to the minority community.
Kerry had praised President Maithripala Sirisena's new government for reaching out to the Tamil minority after the end of the nearly three-decade of ethnic conflict that claimed more than 100,000 lives.
The Sirisena government, which unseated long-time strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in the January polls, pledged a credible domestic mechanism rather than the UN rights body dictated international mechanism to investigate alleged war crimes committed by both government troops and the LTTE during the military conflict in 2009.
The new government is of the view that since Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the Rome statute on international jurisdiction to war crimes, the island would execute justice through its national independent judicial mechanism.
The former Rajapaksa regime was subjected to three successive UNHRC resolutions which called for an international investigation.
Rajapaksa drew international condemnation over his refusal to investigate alleged military abuses. His government had refused to cooperate citing it as an attack on Sri Lanka's sovereignty.
The UN, backed by the US, has been investigating possible war crimes during the conflict for more than a year. In February however, the UN postponed its resolution at the government's request to allow more time for Sri Lanka to complete its own investigation.
The new government's call for a domestic mechanism rather than an international probe has not found favour with the Tamils.
They claim to have no faith in the domestic investigation based on past experiences going slow on them and producing nothing meaningful.



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