Mounting pressure for international probe

Alleged war crimes

With just ten days to go for the release of the UN panel’s report on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, some countries and pro-Tiger lobbies are exerting pressure in many ways.

The report is to be handed over to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon before March 31. The three-member panel led by Indonesia’s Marzuki Darusman is to hold a news conference after the handing over. The Sunday Times reported exclusively on March 6 that a delegation led by Attorney General Mohan Peiris met the panel in New York in a meeting that was not made public by either side.

The latest development on this issue is a meeting of the London-based Tamil Global Forum. Members of the Forum buttonholed Indian Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi soon after she delivered a Commonwealth lecture in London, and tried to get their views across to her.

The Forum claimed in a statement yesterday that Ms. Gandhi said, “she is very concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka.” It added the Indian government had asserted its “serious concerns to Sri Lanka.”
Ms. Gandhi’s husband, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was assassinated by the LTTE.
This week, there was also activity in the British House of Commons. An All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils led by Lee Scott said in a statement that “nothing but an independent international inquiry into alleged war crimes will satisfy the international community.”

Also in the House of Commons, Labour Party MP Jim Cunningham asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth about the status of the Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka. Alistair Burt, the Secretary, replied that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights downgraded one of full compliance with the Paris principles to one of non-compliance and reflected concerns over its political and financial independence. He said the new Commission had been appointed after the 18th Amendment and added “we have raised with the Sri Lankan government the importance of having an effective Commission.”

Last week, in an address to the Asia Society in New York, Robert Blake, US Under-Secretary for Asia and Central Asia, noted “Our strong preference is that the Sri Lankan government establish its own transparent process that meets international standards. However, in the absence of such a mechanism, there will be mounting pressure for an international mechanism.”

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