Sri Lanka keen to cooperate with UN investigation

Colombo, Jan 30 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s government has received encouragement from the UN to cooperate in an ongoing investigation into its human rights record, the foreign ministry said Friday.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s senior advisor on foreign affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala met UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in Geneva and briefed him on the new government’s policies, Xinhua news agency reported.
The former diplomat, who has termed his visit an “exploratory visit”, briefed top UN officials on the policies of the newly elected President Sirisena and his government.
The meeting in Geneva came as Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein prepares to submit in March a report that includes investigations into alleged war crimes to the UN Human Rights Council.
Sri Lanka’s previous government under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa had steadfastly refused to cooperate in what it termed as a “flawed” investigation.
Rajapaksa ended a three-decade war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 but his government was dogged by allegations of civilian deaths during the last phase of the war and other rights abuses.
Rajapaksa was defeated in the Jan 8 presidential election by his former cabinet member Sirisena. The UN is trying to verify how Sri Lanka will cooperate on the investigation.
The new government has said it will launch a domestic probe into the war while the UN said the investigation should meet international standards and it will monitor the latest developments.
“We’re trying to figure out what it means in terms of cooperation with the UN human rights investigation. And we hope that there is positive movement in the cooperation between Sri Lanka and the UN system on the investigation of what happened,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
In another development, the Sri Lankan government Thursday announced plans to make a special statement on the Independence Day, which falls Feb. 4.
The aim is to reach out to all ethnicities in an effort to “put its bloody past behind and move towards reconciliation,” cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said.