India Parliament Wants Govt. to Take Stand on Alleged Sri Lanka War Crimes

Posted March 13th, 2012 at 2:25 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

India's parliament on Tuesday tried to pressure the New Delhi government to take a firmer approach to allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka in the final stages of the country's civil war.

Instead of debating scheduled budgetary issues, the parliament had to be suspended for several hours after lawmakers demanded action on an upcoming U.N. vote on Sri Lanka.

The United States is among the backers of a resolution to be voted on next week. The document calls for further investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tiger rebels shortly before the 26-year conflict ended in May 2009 with the military defeat of the rebels.

India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee hinted Tuesday New Delhi may abstain from voting. He said India's traditional position is not to support any country-specific resolution. The U.N. Human Rights Council vote is mainly symbolic, as the council has no authority to appoint an independent probe.

A United Nations report issued last April said that tens of thousands of civilians may have been killed during government shelling of hospitals and other civilian targets. It said the military's actions could amount to war crimes and 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.

The Colombo government appointed its own commission to probe the allegations. In the 440-page report presented to Sri Lanka's parliament last December, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission said it was “satisfied” security forces had taken precautions to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.

Earlier this year, India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna urged Sri Lanka to forge ahead with political reconciliation steps recommend by the probe. He added “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.”