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Sri Lanka to seek UN reprieve over war crimes probe

By PTI Updated: Sep 14, 2018 10:00 pm

Colombo, Sep. 14 (PTI): Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Friday said he will seek “concessions” from the UN, including a special request to drop the war crime charges against its troops over the alleged killing of thousands of minority Tamils during the brutal civil war with the LTTE.

Sirisena, who will lead a delegation to the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, will address the general debate on September 25.

Addressing the editors of local media here Friday, he said he will ask the UN General Assembly to allow Sri Lanka to amicably resolve war crime allegations against the government forces during the 37-year war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

According to the government figures, around 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts including the civil war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east which claimed at least 100,000 lives.

Relatives of the missing Tamil people allege that the Lankan state – particularly its army, navy and police – were behind most of the disappearances.

The LTTE, which led the separatist war for a separate Tamil homeland, was finally crushed by the Lankan military in 2009 with the death its supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.

“I will make a special request at the UN,” he said, adding that “I will also make a written request to the (UN) human rights council to settle this allegations of war crimes.”

“I want to tell them to remove these charges. We can amicably resolve this issue,” the president said, adding he expected some “concessions” in implementing the 2015 UNHRC resolution.

Since 2013, Sri Lanka faced three UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolutions for the alleged human rights abuses during the last phase of the conflict.

The UNHRC resolution demanded Colombo to set up a credible international investigation into the alleged war crimes. It also condemned the government troops and the LTTE for the alleged human rights abuses.

The resolutions were adopted during the regime of Sirisena’s predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had resisted the international call for an independent probe.

Following the defeat of Rajapaksha in 2015 general elections, Sri Lanka was given an extension to implement the mechanisms prescribed by the UNHRC, after president Sirisena sought a two-year extenion of the deadline.

The government had set up the Office of Missing Persons (OMPs) and also introduced a bill of reparations for the victims of the three-decade-old armed conflict.

President Sirisena also said that some pro-LTTE and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were making various allegations regarding human rights violations.

He said that his government was able to avoid Sri Lanka’s isolation in the UNHRC, which had prevailed before it came to power and succeeded in fostering friendship.


By PTI Updated: Sep 14, 2018 10:00:47 pm