Wed, Mar 05, 2014 - Page 6 News List

US urges probe into war crimes in Sri Lanka

RESOLUTION:Washington backed the UN human rights chief’s call for an external investigation into alleged war crimes in the final stages of the civil war

AFP, COLOMBO, Sri Lanka

A US-led resolution calling for an international probe into allegations that 40,000 civilians were killed at the end of Sri Lanka’s separatist war has been filed with the UN’s top rights body.

In a draft resolution posted on the UN Human Rights Commission’s Web site yesterday, the US endorses the UN human rights chief’s recommendation for an external investigation into alleged war crimes in the final stages of Sri Lanka’s Tamil civil war in May 2009.

NO-FIRE ZONE

The draft welcomed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s recommendation following her visit to Sri Lanka in August last year that there should be an “independent and credible investigation in the absence of a credible national process with tangible results.”

International rights groups as well as UN experts have said there are “credible allegations” that up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed after government forces had ordered them into a no-fire zone.

The US draft noted progress in demining, reconstruction and resettling war victims and effectively gave Sri Lanka another year to show results on accountability.

The US draft was backed by Britain, Montenegro, Macedonia and Mauritius. It asked Pillay to report back on progress with an oral submission to the 27th session of the council in March next year and provide a written report by September next year.

The draft resolution also called on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of military excesses and expressed “serious concern” over continuing reports of human rights violations five years after the end of the decades-long separatist war.

It said that “sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and violations of the rights to freedom of expression” were continuing in Sri Lanka.

‘PUNCHING BAG’

Sri Lanka has already rejected Pillay’s call for an international probe as an “unwarranted interference” and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has accused Washington of treating Colombo like Muhammad Ali’s “punching bag.”

At least 100,000 people were killed in the 37-year conflict before Rajapakse’s troops crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels.

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