Sri Lanka agrees to probe war crimes ahead of UN meet

Published: February 15, 2012
Sri Lanka's army said Wednesday it agreed for the first time to probe war crime charges against its troops and investigate allegations of prisoner executions made in a British TV documentary.

Sri Lanka's army said Wednesday it agreed for the first time to probe war crime charges against its troops and investigate allegations of prisoner executions made in a British TV documentary.

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s army said Wednesday it agreed for the first time to probe war crime charges against its troops and investigate allegations of prisoner executions made in a British TV documentary.

Army chief Jagath Jayasuriya appointed a court of inquiry to investigate charges that troops were responsible for killing civilians and prisoners in the final stages of their war against Tamil rebels in 2009, an army statement said.

The dramatic U-turn from the security establishment came two days after the US warned that the Indian Ocean island would face censure at next month’s UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

Lieutenant General Jayasuriya asked a five-member panel of officers to investigate allegations against the force, including that it executed prisoners as claimed in a documentary by Briton’s Channel Four television channel.

The probe is a major shift for Sri Lanka’s armed forces, which had insisted that it did not kill a single civilian while crushing the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in a no-holds-barred offensive that ended in May 2009.

The army said the inquiry was ordered after the government’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), a panel which probed why a 2002 truce collapsed, said civilians had perished as a result of military action.

“If there is a prima facie case disclosed against any person from the evidence led before the Court of Inquiry, a General Court Martial will be convened to try the alleged offenders,” the army said.

It said an inquiry into observations of the LLRC and the “Channel 4 video footage irrespective of its authenticity or otherwise, is now in full progress.”

Human rights groups have said up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the final months of the government’s military campaign.

The UN estimates some 100,000 people perished during Sri Lanka’s 37-year ethnic conflict which ended with the wiping out of the entire military leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Shiva
    Feb 15, 2012 - 11:46PM

    This is just a stunt to prevent a resolution against Sri Lanka next month at the UN Human Rights Council and nothign else.

    There had been many promises by this regime which never led to any tangible action in the past.

    This regime has been committing crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing and delaying or prevent independent internationa human rights investigation on accountability and justice.

    It is shame on the International Community and the progressive leaders to listen to this alleged criminal regime and allow to fool everyone on the planet.


  • Kanchana Alahapperuma
    Feb 16, 2012 - 1:40AM

    Dear Shiva

    Just for for your info.

    In February 2002, the Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE signed a ceasefire agreement negotiated by Norway. The LTTE broke the ceasefire in early 2003 and fighting resumed.

    In August 2005, the LTTE assassinated Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, an ethnic Tamil. Parliament declared a state of emergency and passed special powers legislation. In December 2005, pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance MP Joseph Pararajasingham was assassinated inside a government high security zone.

    After renewing peace talks in February 2006, hopes were dashed again by a bombing in a Sinhalese market that sparked an anti-Tamil backlash of violence. Within days an LTTE suicide bomber attacked the main army compound in Colombo, killing eight soldiers and seriously wounding the army commander. In retaliation, the GSL launched air strikes on LTTE strongholds. An LTTE suicide bomber then killed the army’s third highest ranking general.

    In August 2006, heavy fighting resumed. Hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands fled their homes as LTTE and GSL forces clashed.

    So Siva how can you tell that SLG is paying a trick ???? All teh govenments tried to sovle these problem. Unfortunately every effort failed.


  • Manicks
    Feb 16, 2012 - 5:00AM

    It has to be an internationl independent investigation. nothing less will be acceptable or credible. The have fooled us enough. You can allow the murderer to investigate his owm crimes.There need to be a regime change.


  • Feb 16, 2012 - 10:39AM

    Manicks We can think over your suggestion,over-throw the present regime of Sri Lanka, but the problem is to choose a new government for this Island & who will be the next president of this lovely country? Ranil,Sajith or Sarath Ponseka? Before over-throw this strong regime we must have a reliable & strong leader for leading the whole nation. I don’t think these three stooges are able for plucking a single hair of Mahinda for three decades.


  • Canaga
    Feb 16, 2012 - 5:28PM

    This is an easy way to get out of the big mess SL had created.
    Enquire, lay prosecusion charges against some soldiers,
    Succeed in prosecting ‘any some soldiers’
    Succeed in jailing a few
    Release them when all the international ‘cry’ is over.

    That is how the SL operates


  • Feb 16, 2012 - 8:55PM

    Some commentators’re crying for the brutal LTTE criminals,but they don’t raise a voice for the innocent Sinhalese & Tamil people who were killed by the barbarian LTTE.


  • Somapala
    Feb 17, 2012 - 3:55AM

    It all goes back to 1958, when innocent Tamils protested by hunger strike against the Sinhala only bill by the racist government, they all beaten up brutally. Then systematic discrimination by the oppressive governemnt along with 1977, 1980, 1983 riots were unleashed by the same sinhala governemnts. These barbaric actions of the sinhala blood thirsty terrorsit government has led to LTTE being formed to resist. Being a sinhalese I know how sinhalese behave. No respect for any human life. The nature will kill us gradually for this sin.


  • Manjula
    Feb 17, 2012 - 5:50AM

    OK, Tamil tiger goons, now it is your chance to come up with your prima facie evidence or complain to this court.

    If you don’t have a case to produce then you can keep on complining that this court is also a tactical move. What else can you say when you don’t have a case?

    Now the ball is in your hands, play or drop, last chance.


  • Canaga
    Feb 17, 2012 - 11:20AM

    abey – our solution is simple. just leave us Tamils alone – we existed for centuries on our own.
    Similarly let the Sinhalese rule themselves. The average village Sinhalese are a very happy lot and able people to live according to Buddha’s teaching – why destroy them by the power hungry Sinhala politicians? I had worked in Sinhala areas for ten years, and I know them. Very able lot.
    Let the tamils go back to the Eelam solution and manage as they have done for centuries.

    The problem is without the Tamil question the Sinhalese politicians cannot win elections. This is the irony of the situation.


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