Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to appoint an "independent committee" to study and formulate recommendations for his consideration 170 allegations of human rights violations during the last phase of the Eelam war IV (August 2006-May 2009) as recounted in the U.S. State Department Report to the Congress last Thursday.

Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister for Human Rights and Disaster Relief Management, told a news conference here on Monday that the precise nature and the terms of reference of the Committee were being finalised. "All I can say at the moment is that it will have well known Sri Lankan intellects and legal experts and would document Sri Lankan position on all the charges."

Once the committee reports back to the President, a consolidated government response to the U.S. report would be formulated, he said.

The 68-page State Department report contains details of alleged "atrocities" by both the military and Tigers during the final stages of the war in May and is prepared by the War Crimes office. It lists incidents between May 2 and 18 that are based mostly on internal reports to Washington from the U.S. embassy in Colombo, satellite imagery, and international relief organisations .

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