Sri Lanka lifts ban on UN war crimes team

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Colombo, Dec 19 (ANI): The Sri Lankan government has reportedly given permission to a team of UN investigators to visit the island to carry out investigations into alleged war crimes in the final stage of the government's war with Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

The government had earlier denied visas to the three-member team named in June by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and had set it up.

Now, Colombo has said the panel can visit and share evidence with its inquiry.

Announcing the relaxation of the ban, Sri Lanka's foreign ministry confirmed a panel, comprising of an Indonesian, an American and a South African, would visit the country.

Sri Lanka has been consistently denying that its forces violated international humanitarian laws during the long conflict, maintaining that only the Tamil Tigers were responsible for the war crimes that time.

In July a minister, Wimal Weerawansa, led a cabinet-backed hunger strike and protested against the panel outside the UN's local compound, and is still insisting that the panel be "given no space" to visit Sri Lanka.

The panel's visit would help "accomplish enemy objectives", Weerawansa recently said, urging all Sri Lankan people to protest against their presence in the country.

The UN estimates that Sri Lanka's conflict killed up to 100,000 people, displaced thousands more and held back the island's growth and economic development.(ANI)

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