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Lanka”s rights record came under intense global scrutiny

[PTI, Wednesday, 28 December 2011 10:28 No Comment]

(PTI) Sri Lanka”s human rights record came under intense international scrutiny during 2011, a year which also saw Colombo deepen its ties with its giant neighbour India in the face of growing Chinese influence.

Sri Lanka”s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), set up by President Mahinda Rajapaksa mainly to defang international criticism on the alleged rights abuses during the last stages of the ethnic conflict with LTTE, largely exonerated the government forces of deliberately targeting civilians.

However, the LLRC conceded that some isolated incidents could have occurred, as it recommended probe if there was evidence of such cases.

The commission called for a political settlement of the ethnic conflict with the Tamil community and asked the government to take the initiative for "a serious and structured" dialogue with all political parties, particularly those representing the minorities.

The commission”s report was in stark contrast to those of the UN Panel of Experts appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the UN special envoy on extra judicial executions and other independent organisations, which found that there were "serious" abuses committed by government forces and the Tamil Tigers, and called for an international inquiry.

Turning down the demand for a global probe, the government underlined that Sri Lanka was "a sovereign nation" and there was no need for "international policemen probing its internal issues".

During the year, India watched the progress in the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka with keen interest.

At his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York September, President Rajapaksa told him about proposals for devolution of power to areas dominated by the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka”s north and the resettlement process of displaced civilians.

India had nudged Sri Lanka to quickly follow up the 2009 military victory against the LTTE with a solution to the political aspirations of the Tamil community in the country.

India underlined the need for Colombo to expeditiously implement steps to ensure the resettlement and genuine reconciliation, including early return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes, restoration of normality in affected areas and to redress the humanitarian concerns of affected families.

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