UN Chief wants Lanka to back probe

Thursday, 25 December 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

United Nations: UN chief Ban Ki-moon has asked Sri Lanka to cooperate with the UN-mandated probe into allegations of war crimes committed towards the end of the nearly three decades-long civil war, according to his spokesman. “The Secretary-General has always encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to comprehensively address the post-war agenda and the Secretary-General has also echoed the calls made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for the Government to cooperate with the ongoing human rights investigation,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, said at his daily briefing on Tuesday. Both Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his rival Maithripala Sirisena, 63, have pledged in the run-up to the January 8 presidential polls that they would not cooperate with the UN-mandated investigation into the government’s 2009 defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebellion. Both 69-year-old Rajapaksa and Sirisena have advocated local mechanisms to deal with rights abuses. Rajapaksa yesterday promised a fresh ‘transparent’ judicial probe into allegations that the army killed thousands of Tamil civilians towards the end of the nearly three decades-long civil war. The promise of a probe by Rajapaksa is being seen as a response to similar pledges made by his main challenger Sirisena. The report on Sri Lanka by the investigation team of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will be taken up for discussion at the UN Human Rights Council on 25 March next year. The 28th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council will be held from 2 to 27 March in Geneva and the report on Sri Lanka is part of the agenda. In a resolution adopted in March 2014 on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’, the United Nations Human Rights Council requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to ‘undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC)’. The resolution also called for the probe to ‘establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders’. President Rajapaksa has called a snap election on 8 January, two years ahead of the schedule. The Tamil Tigers were defeated after their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed by the Sri Lankan forces in 2009. Sri Lanka has come under increased scrutiny from international organisations for its rights accountability during the last phase of the conflict. (PTI)