Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ruled out calls for an international probe into alleged war crimes during the last phase of the Eelam War IV.

In an interview with the Al-Jazeera television news network on Thursday, Mr. Rajapaksa said the security forces did not target civilians. Asked why Colombo was reluctant for an independent international probe, he said he did not want the internal matters to be probed by any other country or international NGO.

He told the television channel that the manner in which nearly three lakh civilians crossed over from LTTE-controlled territory was an indication of their faith in the armed forces.

“If Sri Lankan Army acted in a different way, against the civilians, they would never have trusted us. They wouldn't have walked into our camps.”

Asked about charges of human rights of violations, Mr. Rajapaksa said: “This is an internal matter. I don't want my internal matters to be inquired by any other country or any other NGOs. So we will look after that. That's why we appointed a commission so if there is any violations, we will see.”

However, he said if anybody was found guilty of any excess by the Commission constituted by him earlier in the month, that person would be punished.

The government had named an eight-member “reconciliation commission” to study incidents from 2002 till the end of war in May last year and to recommend ways to avoid recurrence of such events.

In another development, ahead of Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris' meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) group said Sri Lanka's new Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission fell far short of minimum standards sought by the United States.

In a letter to Ms. Clinton, Human Rights Watch urged her to call for an independent international investigation into violations of the laws of war by both government forces and the LTTE.

Keywords: LTTEEelam WarTamilsSinhalis

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