LONDON (TIP): A domestic inquiry into alleged war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan civil war may be set up in less than a month, President Maithripala Sirisena said on his trip to Britain. He, however, said the investigation won’t involve international observers or UN officials.
Sirisena, who took over office in January after defeating Mahinda Rajapaksa, said he was committed to reconciliation. “We expect to begin a new journey to promote reconciliation, cohabitation, brotherhood and friendship among the people of Sri Lanka, and to win over international opinion on these issues,” he said in London.
On May 20, 2009, the Sri Lankan government had declared an end to more than two decades of armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who were seeking a separate homeland for Tamils in the north and east of the country. The UN estimates 40,000 civilians were killed in the last five months of the conflict.
Britain had earlier backed a call for an international investigation into the massacres in Sri Lanka. Saying that the international community has a duty to act, Britain had said it “will be using its position on the UN Human Rights Council to actively press for an international investigation given the lack of a credible domestic accountability process to date”. It had issued a warning that in the absence of an independent investigation in sexual crimes carried out by government forces in Lanka, “pressure would mount for an international investigation including from the UK”.
Britain recently offered help to Sri Lanka to clear deadly landmines and explosive remnants of war from the Tamil-dominated former war zone in northern Sri Lanka.