Sri Lanka says seeking delay in UN war-crimes report

Sri Lanka says seeking delay in UN war-crimes report

February 12, 2015   07:41 am

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said on Wednesday his country was seeking a delay of several months in the release of a U.N. report on alleged war crimes during his country’s civil war until the government had time to establish a mechanism to deal with the issue.


“We are in the process of trying to set up this internal domestic mechanism,” Samaraweera said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, ahead of his talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.


He denied assertions that the call for a postponement of the report was an attempt to buy time.


“We are hoping they could hold on to it until our mechanism is in place,” he said, adding that the domestic probe would be set up and will be functional in about two months.


In March last year, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to look into reports of abuses during the Sri Lankan civil war, saying the Sri Lankan government had failed to investigate properly. The U.N. report is due out on March 25.


“Once the report is finalized, we are hoping they can refer it to our domestic mechanism for action,” Samaraweera told reporters during a visit to Washington. “We are hoping they could hold on to it until our mechanism is in place – maybe August, you know, or so.”


Samaraweera, who is on his first visit to the US after the new government led by Maithripala Sirisena took office last month, asserted that the new government was not in denial of the violations like the previous regime.


“Unlike the previous government we are not in a state of denial, saying that such violations have not happened. We believe such violations have happened,” he said.


“We are ready to ensure that those who have violated human rights in Sri Lanka will be brought to justice through such a mechanism. But to ensure that it is done in a credible manner we are also looking at technical assistance from the international community,” he said.


U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville declined comment earlier on Wednesday when asked about the possibility of a delay in the report, but when pressed, said it was still scheduled for release on March 25, Reuters reports.


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