India Urges Sri Lanka to Work on Reconciliation Efforts

Posted January 17th, 2012 at 4:35 pm (UTC-5)
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India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has urged the Sri Lankan government to forge ahead with political reconciliation steps recommended by a presidential inquiry into the final phase of the 25-year civil war that ended in 2009.

Krishna met Tuesday with President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo. He noted the constructive recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, created in 2010 amid intense international pressure to investigate alleged human rights violations by government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

After talks with his counterpart, Professor G.L. Peiris, in Colombo, Krishna said “these recommendations, when implemented, will mark a major step forward in the process of genuine national reconciliation to which the Sri Lankan government is committed.” Krishna added that Sri Lanka must “seize this opportunity.”

The two ministers also signed an agreement for the construction of housing in the former war zone, as well as several other deals in railways and telecommunications.

Human rights groups have called for an international investigation and more accountability following the release of a Sri Lankan report in November clearing its military of targeting civilians in the final stages of the civil war.

Sri Lanka said it was “satisfied” that security forces had taken precautions to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.

But Human Rights Watch said the commission's failure to provide a roadmap for investigating and prosecuting wartime perpetrators shows the “dire need” for an independent, international commission.

Another human rights group, Amnesty International, said the report contained signs of the “bias we had feared.”

A United Nations report issued in April said tens of thousands of civilians may have been killed in government shelling of hospitals and other civilian targets. The report said the military's actions could amount to war crimes, and it called for the U.N. to establish a special body to investigate further.

The Sri Lanka government has denied it committed war crimes during the conflict.