UN chief Ban Ki-moon has asked Sri Lanka to engage “constructively” and cooperate with its human rights body to implement a resolution calling for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed during the final stages of the country’s civil war.
Ban has “consistently underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Sri Lanka,” the UN Secretary General’s Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters here on Tuesday.
“He welcomes the determination by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to advance accountability and promote lasting peace and reconciliation in the country,” he said.
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Haq said Ban “calls on the government of Sri Lanka to constructively engage and cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner (for Human Rights) on the implementation of the resolution adopted last week by the Human Rights Council.”
Haq was responding to a question on comments by Sri Lankan Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe that Sri Lanka would not participate or cooperate in the investigations into human rights violations.
The Council had on March 27 voted to open an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the final stages of a decades-long conflict that ended in 2009.
India had abstained from voting on the resolution which was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour to 12 against.
The Geneva-based Council requested the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a “comprehensive investigation” into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations “with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability”.
Haq said Ban recalled the commitments made to him on accountability by the President of Sri Lanka in their joint statement of 2009.
The United Nations will remain engaged with Sri Lanka to support Sri Lanka’s efforts to make progress in accountability, reconciliation and a lasting political solution,” Haq added.
The resolution had also called on the Sri Lankan government to release publicly the results of its investigations into alleged violations by security forces, including the attack on unarmed protesters in Weliweriya in August 2013, and the report of 2013, by the court of inquiry of the Sri Lanka Army.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had stressed the need to ensure justice and accountability, including through the establishment of an independent and credible investigation, saying: “This is essential to advance the right to truth for all in Sri Lanka and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress.”