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Sri Lanka's government urges UN not to publish war crimes report

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-04-21

Sri Lanka's government appealed to the United Nations on Thursday to not publish an imminent report detailing alleged war crimes committed during the country's decades-long ethnic conflict, saying it could hurt reconciliation efforts.

AFP - Sri Lanka asked the United Nations on Thursday not to publish a forthcoming report on alleged war crimes during the island's ethnic war, saying it could set back reconciliation efforts.

Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris warned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about releasing the study compiled by a panel of experts who looked into alleged rights abuses and crimes against humanity during the war which ended in 2009.

"The publication of this report will cause irreparable damage to the reconciliation efforts of Sri Lanka. It will damage the UN system too," Peiris told reporters in Colombo. "This UN report is preposterous."

Peiris stressed that the government had never accepted Ban's appointment of the panel and warned him about initiating a full enquiry into suspected civilian deaths during the final stages of fighting.

He declined comment on the contents of the report, a copy of which was handed over to him nine days ago, even though parts of the 200-page document have been leaked in pro-government newspaper Island last weekend.

The UN has said it intends to make the report public some time this week.

"The consequences of publishing this report are far from favourable for the UN," Peiris warned. "It will undermine the principle of sovereign equality. A report as preposterous as this will inflict grave damage to the UN system."

Peiris also denied leaking the report, which recommends an enquiry into "credible allegations" of war crimes and crimes against humanity by both the government and the separatist Tamil rebels, according to the leaks.

It is said to state that "tens of thousands" of people died between January and May 2009 in the final government offensive that resulted in the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, ending a decades-old conflict.

It also listed alleged violations by the rebel forces, saying they had intentionally used civilians as human shields.

Peiris said Sri Lanka was ready to engage the UN in a construction discussion on taking the country's reconciliation process forward.

Sri Lanka's administration argues that no civilians were killed during its offensive against the Tigers.

The country has been fiercely criticised by international rights groups for failing to investigate deaths during the fighting.

President Mahinda Rajapakse has asked his supporters to turn this year's May Day rally into a demonstration against any UN war crimes investigation.

Date created : 2011-04-21


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