Colombo, March 14: Sri Lanka has sought two more years from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to probe the alleged war crimes committed during the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The Foreign Ministry said in Colombo that it has sought more time to deliver on accountability mechanism at the current 34th session of the UNHRC.
Sri Lanka request came after its foreign minister made a statement at UNCHR expressing commitment to the resolution it co-sponsored in October, 2015. The minister had acknowledged that progress on war crimes probe has been slow because of political divide on both sides of Sinhala and Tamil leadership. The resolution called for a four-pillar mechanism to address war crimes and human rights violations but UNCHR chief in his report mentioned that progress on it has been very slow.
The UN Human Rights Council had criticised Sri Lanka's slow progress in addressing its wartime past and reiterated its earlier call for hybrid court of international and local judges to investigate allegations of rights violations.
Earlier, Sri Lankan government has rejected a appeal from the UN to allow international judges to investigate alleged war crimes committed during the conflict with the LTTE. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe rejected the demand, saying it was impractical. He said the conduct of the judiciary has improved under the current unity government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and there was no need now for a hybrid court.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka agreed to a UN Human Rights Council resolution in October 2015 which called for special tribunals and reparations for victims and gave the Colombo government 18 months to establish credible investigations. But the deadline lapsed without those commitments being met.
According to the U.N. figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by the security forces during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime that brought the civil war to an end by defeating the LTTE.