Commonwealth hails Lanka's 'credible' probe for war crimes

The Commonwealth on Tuesday welcomed Sri Lanka's intent to establish a "credible" probe mechanism into war crime allegations and hailed the appointment of a civilian governor in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 03, 2015, 17:29 PM IST

Colombo: The Commonwealth on Tuesday welcomed Sri Lanka's intent to establish a "credible" probe mechanism into war crime allegations and hailed the appointment of a civilian governor in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province.

Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said that the inter- governmental agency is ready to help island nation's new government in its good governance reform agenda, and offered assistance in setting up a judicial inquiry into allegations of killings of thousands of Tamil civilians during the final stages of the ethnic war.

"We have discussed options for practical Commonwealth support for these vital domestic processes, and welcome the intent to establish a credible domestic investigation mechanism that respects international humanitarian law.

"We note the positive steps taken by the Government since January 9 and the further measures contemplated. These include the appointment of civilian governors in the Northern Province and Eastern Province amongst other changes in the provincial administrations, and the appointment of the new Chief Justice," Sharma said during his visit to the country, hailing Lanka's commitment to fundamental governance reforms and strengthening the independence of national institutions.

Sharma briefed President Maithripala Sirisena on his role as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office. Sirisena's predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa had hosted the Commonwealth summit in the country in November 2013.

The Commonwealth will focus its technical assistance to build a fully independent national human rights commission, electoral commission, judicial services commission, media commission and an anti-corruption institution.

It will also help in building expertise to strengthen parliament and its oversight committee structure, expertise and advice to strengthen the independence of the judiciary in line with the Commonwealth's Latimer House Principles on the separation of powers.

Besides, it will assist in providing technical assistance to help implement the Right to Information Act, to strengthen the quality and professionalism of the Public Service, Supporting transparency and good governance in public finance management.

Sirisena had sacked the ex-military governor of the Tamil-dominated Northern Province and replaced him with a civilian, HMGS Palihakkara, in an effort to improve ties with the minority community in the war-ravaged region.