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Sri Lanka stands firm against UN on war crimes

Rights council accused of 'selective treatment'

Sri Lanka stands firm against UN on war crimes
Relatives of people killed or who went missing in the closing stages of the civil war protest outside the UN office reporter, Colombo
Sri Lanka

April 10, 2013

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Sri Lanka yesterday reiterated its rejection of a US-sponsored resolution adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last month calling for a comprehensive war crimes probe.

Responding to a question by opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in parliament yesterday, foreign minister  G.L.Peiris said the government’s stance towards the resolution has not changed.  

He accused the rights council of singling out Sri Lanka for “selective treatment.”

The UN resolution adopted last month, called for an independent and credible investigation into alleged war crimes committed during the country’s long and bitter civil war that ended in in 2009.

Both government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels have been accused of abuses. Rights groups say up to 40,000 civilians were killed during the final stages of the war but the government denies causing civilian deaths.

Last month’s resolution, like a similar one adopted last year, also called on Sri Lanka to implement recommendations to address rights abuses put forward by its own local inquiry panel, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 “The government would not hold talks with anyone on matters contained in the resolution," Peiris said.

He said the resolution attempts to shed Sri Lanka in a very poor light despite the country having returned to peace after decades of violence, which amounts to selective treatment.

“When we survey the global situation, Sri Lanka is now not a country with a troubling situation in the world. The proportionality of this resolution cannot be accepted as a result,” Peiris said yesterday.

But the US said this week that conflict in Sri Lanka could return unless it probes war crimes by both sides and addresses continuing grievances.

“Important steps in achieving real reconciliation have not even begun. Unless the government adequately addresses reconciliation and accountability issues, the country could return to conflict,” US ambassador to Sri Lanka, Michele Sison, said on Monday.

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