US hopes Lanka will punish those responsible for `war crimes`

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is currently on a private visit to US.

Last Updated: Jan 22, 2011, 12:30 PM IST

Washington: The US has expressed hope that Sri Lanka would continue to make efforts to bring to book those who violated the international humanitarian law during the LTTE war, saying that accountability for alleged crimes is an essential component of national reconciliation in the South Asian country.

"We have made strong public statements and are supporting what Sri Lanka is doing. It`s a process that is still ongoing," State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said at his daily news conference yesterday.

"We clearly believe that those who have violated international humanitarian law must be held accountable, and we believe that accountability for alleged crimes is an essential component of national reconciliation in Sri Lanka," he said in response to a question.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is currently on a private visit to the United States.

"There is a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission that has been receiving testimony from hundreds of people. I think its mandate has been extended to June of this year, at which time it will make a report to President Rajapaksa," Crowley said.

"We would hope that Sri Lanka would continue this effort and take advantage of expertise that exists, for example, within the United Nations and the Secretary General`s Panel for Experts that has volunteered to provide assistance to Sri Lanka as it continues this effort," Crowley said.

The US will continue to encourage Sri Lanka to have a full accounting of what happened during and at the end of this conflict. "We think it`s very, very important to Sri Lanka`s future, and we will not hesitate to speak out as this process continues," he said.

Asked why no US official is planning to meet Rajapaksa during his private visit here, Crowley said Washington has had no trouble communicating its views to the government of Sri Lanka.

"We`re going to wait and see how this process unfolds, and if it falls short, we will not hesitate to say so," he said.

Crowley`s remarks came when asked if the US feels so strongly that Rajapaksa`s government should drop its opposition to the UN involvement in the Commission, why it is not seeking a meeting with him.

PTI