Lanka to probe US report on war crimes allegations
Colombo: Amid growing global pressure to probe allegations of human rights abuses, Sri Lanka on Monday said it would investigate war crimes accusations made against the military in a US government report.
The US Department of State submitted a Congress mandated report last week "detailing incidents during the recent conflict in Sri Lanka that may constitute violations of international humanitarian law or crimes against humanity, and, to the extent practicable, identifying the parties responsible."
Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights, said the government has decided to appoint an independent committee "to comprehensively examine the report".
"President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to appoint an independent committee to comprehensively examine the report by the US Department of State to the Congress on `incidents during the recent conflict in Sri Lanka,`" said Samarasinghe.
Sri Lanka, which crushed the LTTE rebels in May, has been under intense global pressure to probe allegations of human rights abuses and war crimes during the final stages of its battle against the Tamil Tigers.
"Once the committee reports back to the President, a consolidated government response to the US State Department report will be formulated," Samarasinghe told reporters.
Minister Samarasinghe said the US report itself states that none of the incidents mentioned are verified.
"The report does not reach legal conclusions as to whether the incidents described herein actually constitute violations of IHL [international humanitarian law], crimes against humanity or other violations of international law," he quoted the report as saying.
"Nor does it reach conclusions concerning whether the alleged incidents detailed herein actually occurred," he said. The Minister stressed that the US State Department is very clear that there is no legal basis for the information contained and also claimed that the report does not mention about a war crimes probe anywhere "as some sections of the media is falsely reporting".
Samarasinghe underlined that it should not be "blown out of proportion".
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