Sri Lanka needs international probe: UN rights chief

31st May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The United Nations human rights chief maintained Monday that Sri Lanka needed an international probe into the government's final offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels last year.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that the Sri Lanka government had created a post-war reconciliation commission to look into alleged human rights violations, and provide justice to victims.

"However, based on previous experience and new information, I remain convinced that such objectives would be better served by establishing an independent international accountability mechanism that would enjoy public confidence, both in Sri Lanka and elsewhere," she said.

Pillay assessed that some progress has been made since the end of the conflict in the return and resettlement of displaced people.

"Concrete initiatives must now follow to provide justice and redress to victims and generally to promote accountability and longer-term reconciliation," she added.

On May 5, the state-run Daily News newspaper reported that Colombo plans to set up a reconciliation commission to foster ethnic unity as the island emerges from nearly four decades of bloody conflict but gave few details.

During press briefing on May 28 with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris confirmed that panel members of the commission were independent and urged the international community to work on the assumption that it will succeed.

Government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May last year after killing the guerilla leaders who were fighting for an ethnic Tamil homeland.

The UN estimates that up to 100,000 people died in Sri Lanka's Tamil separatist conflict after the Tiger rebels first emerged in 1972.

The Sinhalese are the majority in Sri Lanka, with the Tamils representing the minority.

© 2010 AFP

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