06/11/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA

UN commissioner wants to meet Sri Lankan civil war witnesses

by Melani Manel Perera
The visit by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has not been confirmed. Colombo opposes it, wants local NGOs as mediators. US secretary of state wants the Sri Lankan government to support Pillay.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay plans to hold discussions with civilians who testified before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) set up by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to investigate the last phase of the civil war, highly placed External Affairs Ministry sources said.

Within the government, many are opposed to the visit, viewing it as lack of confidence in the LLRC's work. However, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has not yet made any official request. If it does, Sri Lankan authorities will bring in local NGOs as mediators.

At the end of 2011, the LRCC issued a report. In it, some Tamil Tiger (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) officials are said to have gone missing after their surrender. Pillay wants to talk to witnesses who talked about the missing in order to know more about it.

The Secretary of State Hilary Clinton requested Colombo to provide assistance to the visit by Pillay, during the discussion held with Clinton at the recent special visit to the United States by Sri Lanka's External affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris.

The United States was one of the actors in a UN resolution on alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lankan troops in the final phase of the civil war.

Adopted on 22 March, the resolution called on Sri Lanka's government to improve on the LLRC recommendations and take all possible steps to ensure justice, equality and reconciliation among Sri Lankans.

 

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