COLOMBO (TIP): The US on Sunday pressed Sri Lanka to probe alleged rights abuses by its army through independent and credible investigations after a top American diplomat recorded eyewitness accounts of serious “abuses” during the final stages of the civil war with the LTTE. The US ambassador at large at the office of global criminal justice, Stephen J Rapp, concluded his week-long visit to Sri Lanka during which tweets from the US mission here carried photos of alleged sites in the north where people were killed due to Lankan military shelling in the 2009 war. Rapp had listened to eyewitness accounts of rights abuses “including those that occurred at the end of the war”, a statement from the US embassy said here.
Sri Lankan military had defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009. Colombo has resisted calls to probe claims that over 40,000 ethnic minority Tamils were killed by the military during the final phase of the civil war. ” … the government of the US encourages the government of Sri Lanka to seek the truth through independent and credible investigations, and where relevant, have prosecutions,” it said. Rapp called on foreign minister GL Peiris on Friday. Sri Lanka has denied charges that around 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed by the army during the final push that crushed the LTTE.
The Lankan military has denied US accusations levelled through photographs during Rapp’s visit which came ahead of the March sessions of the UN human rights council in Geneva. The US has told Lanka that it could introduce a third successive resolution over rights accountability and reconciliation with the Tamil minority at the Council. Two previous resolutions, both US-moved, were supported by India. Rapp’s visit met with a protest opposite the US embassy. A nationalist group slammed the US for interfering in the country’s internal affairs. A protest was sparked when Rapp told the main Tamil party TNA that the March resolution would push for an international war crimes investigation.