US envoy to visit north Sri Lanka over war crimes

January 07, 2014 07:40 pm | Updated June 15, 2016 07:15 pm IST - Colombo

A top US diplomat will visit Sri Lanka’s war-ravaged north on Wednesday to hold talks with local officials over alleged war crimes during the last phase of the civil war against the LTTE.

The US Ambassador—at—Large at the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Stephen J Rapp, who arrived hereon Monday on a week—long visit, will spend two days in the north holding talks with officials and leaders.

This is Rapp’s second visit to the island and comes ahead of another US—moved resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in March.

US officials said Rapp aims to meet government officials, political and civil society leaders to discuss issues focusing on Sri Lanka’s justice, accountability and reconciliation issues.

Two US—moved similar resolutions at the UNHRC and backed by India were adopted at the UNHRC for two years running in 2012 and 2013. Both resolutions called for expeditious action from Colombo to achieve reconciliation with the Tamil minority.

Sri Lanka has also come under international pressure to institute a war crimes inquiry into the last stages of the military battle with the LTTE in 2009.Western nations have been pressing Lanka to account for thousands of civilians suspected of being killed in the final months of the quarter—century war.

According to a UN report, 40,000 civilians may have died in the last few months of the fighting between the government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels fighting for a homeland for ethnic minority Tamils.

Sri Lanka has resisted such calls, claiming that the island’s own mechanisms were sufficient to deal with what is being seen as a domestic issue.

British Prime Minister David Cameron visited Lanka’s north in November last year and met members of the Tamil community, becoming the first foreign head of state since 1948 to do so.

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