UN Chief Stresses Importance of Sri Lanka’s Reconciliation Process

Posted October 26th, 2011 at 8:05 pm (UTC-5)
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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Wednesday with Sri Lanka's special envoy on human rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, to discuss the reconciliation process following the country's 26-year civil war that ended in May 2009.

The meeting was part of the U.N. ongoing dialogue with the Colombo government. The U.N. chief stressed the importance of dealing with accountability issues in the context of national reconciliation. The discussion also touched on the importance of continuing progress with regard to recovery and resettlement efforts in the former war zone in the north.

The war between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers ended with the military's defeat of the rebels. Shortly afterwards, both sides were accused of committing war crimes during the final phases of the war.

A U.N. report issued earlier this year cited evidence that Sri Lankan forces killed thousands of civilians in the final months of the conflict. Some rights groups put the death toll at as many as 40,000 civilians killed.

The Colombo government denied any wrongdoing and initiated its own investigation. It said civilian deaths were impossible to avoid altogether, given the magnitude of the fighting and the “ruthlessness” of the opponent.

Last month, Amnesty International said that Sri Lanka's official inquiry into the matter is “seriously flawed” and “falls short of international standards.”

The London-based group said the probe was unlikely to deliver justice for the “tens of thousands of victims of war crimes,” saying the investigation had so far made no recommendation for bringing individuals to justice. The group added that the inquiry also failed to protect Sri Lankans who offer testimony.