Sri Lanka confident of India's support at UNHRC

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Colombo, Sept 23: Sri Lanka today expressed confidence that prominent nations, including India, would back its proposal for a domestic mechanism to probe alleged war crimes during the conflict with LTTE, notwithstanding UNHRC's recommendation for a hybrid court with international judges.

"The resolution to be brought tomorrow will be for a domestic mechanism. We have the support coming from China, Russia and India they all agree for the local mechanism," Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told reporters on the eve of consultations with stakeholders on the resolution.

SL confident of India's support at UNHRC

Senaratne, who is also the Health Minister, was referring to the pro-Sri Lanka resolution to be sponsored by the US later this month at the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva.

In a blow to Sri Lanka's insistence on a purely domestic probe, a UNHRC report last week asked Sri Lankan government to set up a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators to probe the horrific war crimes during the civil war with LTTE that ended in 2009.

Sri Lanka's Tamil minority say they lack trust in a local inquiry into the war, in which more than 100,000 people died. Asked about former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's statement that the government must reject the UNHRC report, Senaratne said that he can only reject if he was still at the helm of the government.

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"He rejected everything connected to the UN but went to address the General Assembly every year," the Minister said. The US sponsored three successive resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council since 2012, the last of which in 2014 proposed an international investigation.

Rajapaksa then as the President rejected the resolution claiming it was an attack on Sri Lanka's sovereignty. India in 2012 and 2013 voted for the US-sponsored resolution, but last year it abstained from voting on the resolution that sought an international investigation into Sri Lanka's alleged war crimes.

Rajapaksa had refused to cooperate with the investigation and did not permit the investigators to arrive in the country. In a major shift Washington last month announced it would support Colombo's plans for a domestic inquiry, which is also supported by India.

Since Rajapaksa's defeat in presidential polls in January, President Maithripala Sirisena's government has adopted a policy of closer cooperation with the UN mechanism and turned around Sri Lanka's international relations for the better.

Sirisena's government, which came to power strongly backed by the Tamils, has vowed to punish war criminals of the conflict fought under the command of his predecessor, Rajapaksa, who ruled Sri Lanka for nearly 10 years. Rights groups claim that the Sri Lankan military killed 40,000 civilians in the final months of the three decade-long brutal ethnic conflict with the LTTE.

PTI 

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