Sri Lanka softens stand on UN war crimes panel`s visit

Sri Lanka previously rejected UN panel as interference in internal affairs.

Colombo: Softening its stance, Sri Lanka on Saturday said it would consider allowing a panel of experts, appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to visit the country to probe alleged war crimes during the LTTE-era, if a formal request was made.

Responding to the UN chief`s statement on planned visit, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Bandula Jayasekara said "when a request is made we will consider it".

Sri Lanka previously rejected Ban`s panel as an interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and instead set up its own "Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC)", a government appointed panel to look into events during the war and make recommendations to avoid repetition.

Three international non governmental organisations, the New York-based Human Rights Watch, London-based Amnesty International and Brussels-based International Crisis Group have snubbed an invitation to appear before the LLRC last month, accusing it of a cover-up and lacking credibility.
The LLRC for its part has said that it must be judged by its performance and not prejudice. Both the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lanka`s government have been accused by human rights groups of committing crimes against humanity during the last year of their three-decade-long conflict.