UN gives go-ahead for Sri Lanka war crimes inquiry

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 1:52am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 1:52am


The UN Human Rights Council yesterday launched an inquiry into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka despite Colombo's fierce efforts to block an investigation.

In a 23-12 vote, the council backed a Western-sponsored resolution that said it was time for a "comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations … of human rights … by both parties in Sri Lanka".

Sri Lanka's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha, slammed the resolution as a "serious breach of international law", telling the council it constituted "an infringement of state sovereignty and pre-judgment of the outcome of domestic processes." Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse also condemned the vote.

"We reject this," he said. "This resolution only hurts our reconciliation efforts. It does not help. But … we will continue with the reconciliation process I started."

Rajapakse, who tightened his grip on power after crushing the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, argues he is being unfairly targeted by Western nations.

But they question the credibility of his efforts to stem what they say are ongoing rights violations. UN monitors say thousands of ethnic Tamils died in the army's final offensive that ended the Tigers' fight for an independent state.