Sri Lanka seeks international help in war crime probe

Geneva: Sri Lanka’s new government today appealed the UN and the international community have faith in it and sought their advice, technical support and assistance for a domestic probe into the alleged human rights violations during the last phase of war with the LTTE.

Addressing the high-level segment of the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council here, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera said his government achieved much during its 48 days in office but many more hurdles remain.

“I assure this Council however that the political will and commitment required for this purpose has not diminished in any way,” he said.

Samaraweera said the government will engage and work in cooperation with a range of international organisations and countries across the world.

“Our approach is to seek solutions to issues through dialogue, cooperation, understanding and learning and not through confrontation,” he said.

He said the new government commenced a dialogue with South Africa last week to learn from their experience of truth-seeking.

“We are firm in our belief, that, to be successful, the journey of reconciliation and accountability is one that the people of our country must embark upon, on their own. We do possess the competence, the skills, and the human resources required for this purpose,” the Minister said.

“But we recognise that in this journey, there is much that we can draw from the experience of others in the international community. We have much to gain from their advice, technical support and assistance,” he added.

“The last few years when Sri Lanka moved away from this cooperative approach was an aberration. It was not in keeping with our nation?s interests or with our nation’s character and personality,” Samaraweera said.

“I urge this Council, the High Commissioner, our bilateral partners, international organisations and also the Sri Lankan diaspora, all who wish our country to succeed, to trust us, have faith in us, support us and strengthen our hand,” he said.

Lanka’s new President Maithripala Sirisena took power last month after defeating Mahinda Rajapaksa who had vehemently resisted cooperation with the UN mandated probe.

Sri Lanka has been subject to three UNHRC resolutions in 2012, 2013 and 2014 over alleged rights abuses by government troops during the last phase of the three decade-long war with the LTTE in 2009.

In March last year, the 47-member UNHRC adopted a resolution which requested the Office of the High Commissioner to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period.