Govt. will launch war crimes probe next month-President


 By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said that a fresh war crimes probe would be launched next month in conformity with both international as well as domestic standards.

While reiterating Sri Lanka’s right to act independently, President Maithripala Sirisena told proprietors of media organizations and senior print and electronic media representatives that the probe would definitely get underway ahead of the next Geneva sessions scheduled for next September.

 Yesterday’s meeting at the President’s House was the second presidential briefing since the January 8 presidential poll.

 The President was responding to a query by The Island whether he would join Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in requesting the UN to facilitate the new probe by lifting a 20-year-ban on all information pertaining to war crimes received by UNSG Ban ki moon’s panel of experts. In accordance with the UN mandate, the ban will remain in force until March 31, 2031. The Island pointed out allegations couldn’t be verified unless the UN lifted the ban.

 On the basis of the panels’ findings, the US moved a resolution at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in March 2014 to pave the way for an external investigation.  

Recollecting a telephone conversation, he had had with UNSG moon and a special UN representative separately, President Maithripala Sirisena reiterated his commitment to a thorough domestic inquiry in keeping with international standards. The President said that he was determined to achieve progress in that regard before the next Geneva meet.

President Maithripala Sirisena said that anyone found guilty by the domestic mechanism would be dealt with by the judiciary here. "The UN has accepted our stand," President Maithripala Sirisena said, adding that his government was committed to protect the interests of those who had waged war to restore peace and stability, but still anyone found guilty of accountability issues would be dealt with according to the law.

The military brought the war to a successful conclusion on May 19, 2009 on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon. 

President Maithripala Sirisena said that he was aware of various Tamil Diaspora organizations propagating war crimes accusations against previous political leadership and those who prosecuted the offensive.

 Commenting on various commemorative activities held in Mullaitivu this week, President Maithripala Sirisena said the stand taken by his government as well as the judiciary in this regard was the same. The previous government, too, had adopted measures to thwart commemoration of LTTE dead, the President said, adding that the new administration wouldn’t tolerate such activities. 

The Commander-in-Chief also assured legal action against those who had commemorated the LTTE dead, while urging northerners not to abuse the freedom they enjoyed. The legal action meant to curb such actions would be taken as the government couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was happening.

Responding to another query, President Maithripala Sirisena emphasised that there was absolutely no basis for his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa to claim that the LTTE was making a comeback with the public display of its flag. Assuring that swift action would be taken against anyone seeking to revive the LTTE, the President said that former President Rajapaksa seemed to be the only one seeing LTTE flags. The President said that intelligence services remained alert and the government would act swiftly and decisively to meet any eventuality.

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