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* Access to Sri Lanka not necessary to conduct war crime probe, UN HR Chief says
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 07:00 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 11, New Delhi: Visiting Sri Lanka is not necessary for the United Nations to conduct an effective investigation into the alleged war crimes, the U.N. Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay has said.

In response to Sri Lankan government defiant stance that it will not allow any international investigator to enter the country to collect evidence, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that there is a large amount of information available outside the country.

"There is a wealth of information outside of Sri Lanka which can be tapped into," Pillay has told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email response to questions.

The UN Human Rights Council in March this year adopted a resolution mandating the UN High Commissioner's office to undertake a comprehensive independent investigation into alleged serious human rights violations and crimes by both the government and the Tamil Tiger terrorist group LTTE during the seven years from 2002 to 2009 of the three-decade long war.

Sri Lanka maintains that the probe is an unnecessary and unethical intrusion into the island nations' sovereignty.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka accused that Pillay, a South African of Tamil origin, is biased against Sri Lanka and the government has refused to accept the UN investigation due to concerns over its legality, fairness, and conflict of interest issues.

The government has consistently stated that it will not cooperate with the inquiry or grant visas to U.N. investigators to collect evidence.

"The credibility of the report will depend on it reflecting proper standards of corroboration of evidence, whether the team is allowed into the country or not," Pillay has said adding that credible investigations were carried out on Syria and North Korea, for example, despite no access.

"Hardly anyone, apart from the Syrian and Democratic People's Republic of Korea governments, are questioning the credibility of these two inquiries, so I don't see why it should be any different in the case of Sri Lanka," Pillay told Reuters.

The UN official has noted that Sri Lankan media reports have spread false information to discredit the inquiry.

"Regrettably, there has been some serious misinformation and distortion," she said.

The High Commissioner has said that media reports that some countries including India and Thailand have refused to grant visas to the UN team appointed by her to probe Sri Lanka were not true.

No one had applied for a visa for Sri Lanka or any other country, she has stressed.

Pillay has said that the investigation's coordinator and members of the advisory board had been "subjected to personal attacks in some Sri Lankan media that were both distorted and inaccurate."

Pillay appointed Nobel Laureate Martti Ahtisaari, international judge Dame Silvia Cartwright of New Zealand, and Ms Asma Jahangir, former President of Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar Association as experts to the investigative team which will be coordinated by senior human rights official Ms. Sandra Beidas.

Pillay has said that it was important to understand that the investigation was set up for the benefit of all Sri Lankans, as an avenue to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation.

"It is in this context that the Human Rights Council-mandated investigation should be viewed, rather than being seen as a confrontation."

The office of the High Commissioner, in a recent statement said the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), based in Geneva will continue to seek to engage with the Sri Lankan government.

"The High Commissioner will continue to request for the OISL to have access to the country to meet with Government officials and others, as well as to have access to all relevant documentation," the statement said.

** Related Story :: OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka will continue to seek engagement with the Government

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