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Australian envoy says Sri Lankan war crimes allegations must be investigated

Rejecting criticism of Australian troops conducting military training with Sri Lankan counterparts, an Australian envoy stressed however, that the allegations of war crimes were "serious" and required investigation, the AP reported. 

“The approach we are taking is that we do want to work with the Sri Lankan tri-services. The war finished 10 years ago. We need to think about the future,” Australia's acting ambassador John Philp said.

“We do know that there are serious allegations. We certainly believe that they should be taken seriously,” Philp said, adding that Australia drew confidence from Sri Lanka's co-sponsoring of the UN Human Rights Council resolution, which calls for the investigation of war crimes. 

Earlier this month Australia launched a large scale military exercise with Sri Lanka as part of the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE-19). 

Read more: Australia launches largest ever military exercise with Sri Lanka

The Australian Foreign Office said earlier this month that Sri Lanka's progress was slower than it should be and also expressed alarm at the government's plans to renew the use of the death penalty. 

"The department, the government, is in agreement with the view that progress is slower than it should be and we'd like it to be. Some of this will be a matter for consideration before the next session of the Human Rights Council," First Assistant Secretary, South and West Asia Division at Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Merrifield said during a Senate Estimate Hearing.

Read more: Sri Lanka's progress 'slower than it should be' says Australia

The comments come as Tamils in Australia called for Sri Lanka to be referred to the International Criminal Court. 

"Given Sri Lanka’s lack of will to bring perpetrators to justice, the ATC joins Tamil victim and survivor communities within the island, the Diaspora and international human rights organisations in calling for alternate UN processes to be considered such as referral to the ICC or the establishment of an international criminal tribunal," the Australian Tamil Congress said this week. 

Read more: Australian Tamils call for Sri Lanka to be referred to ICC

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