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UN presses Sri Lanka on war crimes investigations, reforms ‎

Tamil protesters in the northern Sri Lankan town of Jaffna demanding the whereabouts of missing relatives. - AFP

Tamil protesters in the northern Sri Lankan town of Jaffna demanding the whereabouts of missing relatives. - AFP

25/03/2017 14:11

Sri Lanka must make more progress towards meeting commitments to establishing a credible ‎investigation into alleged war crimes during the country's civil war and enacting reforms, the United ‎Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) said on Thursday.   The Geneva-based body handed Sri ‎Lanka a two-year extension to implement fully the commitments that were made under a 2015 ‎resolution after the United Nations top human rights official, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, expressed concern ‎at the "slow progress" of reforms in Sri Lanka.  ‎

The UN and rights groups have accused the Sri Lankan military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly ‎Tamils, during the final weeks of the war and have pressed for justice for the families of those who ‎disappeared.  The United Nations launched a probe in 2014 into war crimes allegedly committed by ‎both state forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels. The government of then-‎leader Mahinda Rajapaksa resisted the probe and denied UN officials entry to the island nation.  ‎

Many council members welcomed Sri Lanka's engagement, but called on President Maithripala ‎Sirisena's government to present a clear plan aimed at meeting reconciliation, reform and justice ‎commitments.  ‎

In the eight years that have passed since the war ended, the government has failed to prosecute alleged ‎war crimes such as torture, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances.  Families whose loved ones ‎disappeared during the conflict have urged the United Nations to pressure the Sri Lankan government ‎to speed up the war crimes probe.  More than 100,000 are believed estimated to have died and some ‎‎65,000 went missing during the 26-year conflict.‎

Sri Lanka's deputy foreign affairs minister, Harsha De Silva, told the UN rights body on Thursday that ‎the government was striving to establish the rule of law and end impunity under "Sri-Lankan ‎government-led processes".  However, John Fisher, Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, said the ‎president's opposition to the involvement of foreign judges, which had been agreed in the 2015 ‎resolution, raised questions over the government's commitment to justice and undermined confidence in ‎the government's efforts.‎  (Source: Reuters)

25/03/2017 14:11