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Sri Lanka hits back at UN over war crimes reports

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry has slammed the United Nations over reports that senior military officials oversaw crimes against humanity and labelled the reports as “unacceptable”, as Colombo defended its pardon of a Sri Lankan soldier who was convicted for war crimes.

“The Government rejects the references made to false and unsubstantiated allegations levelled against senior military officials being appointed to key positions of institutions,” said Sri Lanka’s representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday.

“‘In the absence of any substantive proof, Sri Lanka considers that the continued arbitrary accusations on crimes or crimes against humanity made against these senior military officials are unacceptable and a violation of the principles of natural justice.”

Earlier in the session the UN human rights chief had said that she was “troubled” that Sri Lanka’s new government is swiftly reneging on its commitments to the Council since it withdrew from a resolution on accountability earlier this year. This year alone, the regime has promoted military officials accused of crimes to senior government posts and pardoned a Sri Lankan soldier who was convicted of murdering 8 unarmed Tamil civilians.

“The GoSL wishes to state that the pardon to the former Army sergeant was granted in terms of the powers and provisions of the Constitution of Sri Lanka,” the Sri Lankan government claimed.

The statement went on to reject the numerous reports of surveillance and intimidation of human rights activists, claiming that “the Government has already publicly refuted these allegations”.

The foreign ministry also defended the 20th amendment, which the High Commissioner had said would negatively impact on the independence of key institutions.

“The draft 20th Amendment to the Constitution submitted through the Parliament will be discussed, debated, following a complete democratic process, where all stakeholders will have the opportunity to present their views,” it claimed. “Therefore, the GoSL is of the view that High Commissioner’s comments on the proposed 20th Amendment are unwarranted and pre-judgmental, based on presumption.”

Read the full statement of the Ministry here and the High Commissioner here.


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