Sri Lanka War Crimes Probe: NPC Rejects Domestic Mechanism

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Tamil-controlled Northern Provincial Council today demanded an international probe into the alleged war crimes committed towards the end of civil war with the LTTE, while dismissing the domestic mechanism backed by the US and the international community.

In a resolution passed today, the NPC questioned the legal possibilities of conducting a credible domestic investigation in preference to an international mechanism.

“…the Council calls upon the international community to set up an international tribunal to try those alleged to have committed international crimes against the Tamil People in Sri Lanka,” the resolution titled ‘The Need for an International Mechanism’ said.

“We urge the new leaders of the Sri Lankan government to be courageous enough to work with the international communityto set up a credible international mechanism which willdeliver justice and put this nation on a path of meaningful reconciliation.”

The resolution also noted that the victims of the 26-year war, which ended in 2009, were spread across many countries.

nesonCV Wigneswaran, Chief Minister of the province, has also demanded a credible international investigation mechanism. The council awaits the release of the OHCHR Investigation on SriLanka (OISL) report.

The NPC resolution has come a week after the US said it would back a domestic inquiry. The announcement by the USsignals a reversal in its longstanding insistence on an international inquiry.

Since 2012, the US has sponsored three resolutions — all adopted — demanding accountability from Sri Lankan government. The last resolution moved at the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 had called for an international investigation.

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa resisted international pressure to investigate war crimes allegations during histenure, straining the US-Lanka ties.

Rajapksa had claimed that any international investigation would be an attack on the island’s sovereignty.

In January, he suffered a surprise defeat from Maithripala Sirisena, who had in the run up to the election pledged a domestic mechanism to an international one.

Last week, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe claimed that there was no legal basis for an international probe.

According to a 2012 UN investigation, 40,000 civilians were killed in the war’s horrific last few weeks.