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Asia-pacific

Colombo against international human rights probes

Video by Miyuki DROZ ARAMAKI

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-05-31

Sri Lanka said it would only allow its own courts - and not international ones - to investigate reported human rights abuses and thousands of civilian deaths during the government's military campaign against Tamil Tigers, which ended in May.

REUTERS - The end of Sri Lanka’s civil war will help boost economic growth by 3 percentage points a year as service industries pick up and better security attracts investors, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said on Sunday.

 

“When countries are free of terror, the private enterprises will move in where they have an opportunity,” Bogollagama said in an interview on the sidelines of a regional security conference in Singapore.

 

Sri Lanka on May 18 declared victory over a Tamil Tiger insurgency after 26 years of fighting that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.  Sri Lankan stocks have rallied since the war ended.

 

“If there’s a financial analyst around, he’ll be able to add at least a growth rate of about another 3 percent from the service sector on an annual basis for the next two years or so,” Bogollagama said, citing fishing and tourism as areas with the greatest potential.

 

But the victory has come at a cost, and United Nations officials and human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the government and Tamil Tigers for actions resulting in the deaths of large numbers of civilians.

 

Bogollagama dismissed the criticism and defended his government’s human rights record. For instance, he said Sri Lanka never stopped the supply of food to Tiger-controlled areas even though much of it was used to feed the rebels.

 

He also said Sri Lanka would not let international organisations investigate or prosecute its security personnel for alleged human rights abuses.

 

“Sri Lanka is a sovereign country with its own legal framework,” he said. “We have a very strong separation of powers (and) the judiciary is independent.”

 

The foreign minister declined to comment on the status of Sri Lanka’s request for a $1.9 billion IMF loan, but stressed his country had an urgent and legitimate need for the loan. Sri Lanka had always repaid its loans from the IMF, he added.

 

Britain and the United States have said they could delay the loan—needed to address a balance of payments deficit—to punish Sri Lanka for rejecting a truce offer at the tail end of the civil war.

 

Bogollagama said the Tigers were finished as a military force and the government was confident the rebels were in no position to regroup or conduct small-scale insurgencies.

 

“When the bodies are dead, cells can’t live,” he said.

 

Date created : 2009-05-31

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