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* India refuses visa to UN team probing Sri Lanka
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 06:22 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 21, Colombo: India has refused to grant visas to the United Nations team appointed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to probe the alleged human rights violations during the last seven years of three-decades long conflict in Sri Lanka.

India and four other South Asian countries have united in expressing objection to the UN probe mandated by a resolution adopted at the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in March 2014.

Commissioner of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa has said that India has rejected to provide visa to the investigations committee to enter that country to conduct the probe, national news agency Lankapuvath reported.

Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Maldives have expressed their objection to the international investigation into Sri Lanka.

The investigation team appointed by Pillay to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lanka's security forces and the Tamil terrorists comprises 13 members and three experts.

While conducting investigations from Western countries, the team has sought to conduct the investigations in a country close to Sri Lanka since Sri Lanka has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

"India is an important country in this regard, but India has rejected entry. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives are in a similar stance, they are not willing to provide support for a suggestion brought on an individual country. They will want to conduct investigations in a country that is close to Sri Lanka, since they cannot enter Sri Lanka," Dr. Mahanamahewa has said.

The human rights official has noted that even Afghanistan has shown their objection towards the probe. "The SAARC countries have united for the first time in this manner," Dr. Mahanamahewa added.

"The UNHRC Committee will have to conduct the investigation from outside South Asia. They will have to contact witnesses in Sri Lanka through Skype and teleconferencing," he has said.

He said refusal of visas is a very significant gesture from the part of the Indian leadership.

Pillay last month 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.

Earlier this month India reiterated that it is against sending the UN team to Sri Lanka to probe human rights violations allegedly committed by the Sri Lankan security forces during the decades-long war.

India's External Affairs Ministry, recalling that India abstained on the Resolution and also voted against the specific paragraph that wanted to send a team to the island, has said that the international bodies need to address human rights through a cooperative framework, not a punitive approach.

Meanwhile, the committee appointed by Navi Pillay will initiate its investigations from three different locations worldwide. Centers established in New York, Bangkok and Geneva will initiate the investigations connecting via Skype, and Satellite, the agency reported.

** Related Story :: India against sending an UN investigation team to Sri Lanka

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