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We will not allow UN investigators to visit Sri Lanka says new president

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena says no UN officials will be allowed to visit the island to conduct investigations into mass atrocities.

In an interview for the BBC Sinhala service, President Sirisena said the government had requested the UN to have faith in a domestic process.

“No, we have made a clear statement requesting them to have faith on our domestic investigation,” he said in response to a whether the government would allow external investigators.

“What we can do is to take UN's opinions in to consideration and strengthen the domestic mechanism accordingly. Therefore I don't think that we need anyone from outside to conduct the investigations. But of course, we can obtain their ideas to make our work more effective.”

The president said it “was a victory” to gain the international community’s consent for conducting a domestic inquiry, when looking at the nature of the war crimes allegations.

“When we consider the accusations that were made about the alleged human rights violations occurred in the last phase of the war, I think it is a victory that we succeeded in gaining the consent of the international community for a domestic mechanism,” he said.

Mr Sirisena also dismissed the No Fire Zone documentary, which was recently released in the Sinhala language, despite admitting he hadn’t yet watched it.

“I think we have to reject those things. I don't believe such things. Because we have questions regarding how they obtained all this information to change the situation in our country and to mislead the international community about the situation. Therefore I cannot comment on the content of the film as I haven't seen this film yet and don't even know what it contains. So I will only be able to comment on this after watching it. Apart from that, when consider what was there earlier, I totally reject such things.”

Please see a translation of the full interview by JDS here.

Speaking to the BBC World Service on Thursday, Tamil Guardian editorial board member Thusiyan Nandakumar said "given Sri Lanka's long and torturous history of failed commissions, criticised by human rights groups worldwide - Amnesty International called it '20 years of make believe' - there is a deep and justified scepticism with any sort of domestic process."

"The Tamil people themselves have been very clear that they have no hope for justice under a domestic mechanism," he further added. "Tamil hopes now as we’ve seen with the recent spur in protests, rests with the international community… International pressure has been key to driving events forward in Sri Lanka."

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