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* Sri Lankan peace organization asks government to consider joint inquiry with international community
Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 08:11 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 27, Colombo: A peace organization in Sri Lanka has called on the Sri Lankan government to consider a joint inquiry instead of an international inquiry into alleged war crimes and human rights violations in the last phase of the country's war against the Tamil Tiger terrorists.

The Sri Lankan government has rejected the report submitted by the UN Human Rights Commissioner that recommends an international inquiry into alleged war crimes and human rights violations in the last phase of the war.

Issuing a statement, The National Peace Council (NPC) said the government continues to deny the allegations and asserts that it only carried out a humanitarian rescue operation during the last stages of the war due to the forcible holding of the civilian population by the LTTE and also asserts that the alleged number of persons who had died or disappeared as a gross exaggeration.

"It sets up an inquiry but entrusted it to the military against whom the allegations are made, which does not make it an independent investigation. It is an accepted principle in law that no person can be a judge in their own cause," the NPC states.

The NPC pointed out that due to the deteriorating human rights situation and rule of law the international community has lost faith in Sri Lanka's domestic probes.

"The last resolution that was passed in the UNHRC called for an independent and credible domestic investigation. Sri Lanka possesses individuals who have held very high positions both internationally and nationally in human rights investigations, and who could be acceptable to all stakeholders. But with the erosion of the Rule of Law and the independence of the Judiciary with the 18th Amendment and impeachment of the Chief Justice, it is unlikely that the UN would accept a purely domestic investigation as a credible alternative at this time," the Council noted.

The Council expressed concern that the outcome of the confrontation that is taking place between the Sri Lankan government and those countries that seek to set up an international mechanism against Sri Lanka's wishes will stir up hatred and antagonism against the ethnic and religious minorities, who have been the victims of the war, for allegedly supporting the UNHRC resolution against the country.

The NPC has therefore called on the international community and the Sri Lankan government to resolve their differences through a joint inquiry with a report back mechanism to the UN.

"This could avoid the weaknesses of a previous joint effort to investigate human rights violations that led to the setting up of an Independent International Eminent Group of Persons to be observers. In addition, provision could be made for the inquiry to take place in a neutral country as well as in Sri Lanka so that those who make the allegations can be assured that they would not be penalized for giving evidence for or against the allegations," the NPC pointed out.

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