US acknowledges complications in Sri Lanka war crimes investigation

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski speaks during a media briefing at the American Center in HanoiImplementing a UN resolution calling for the investigation of alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during a war with separatist rebels is complicated and needs more consultations to build confidence, a senior U.S. official said, according to the Reuters news agency.

The United States along with other Western countries have long demanded an international investigation into the killing of thousands of ethnic minority Tamils in the final weeks of the war, in 2009, under then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Both the military and Tamil rebels “most likely” committed war crimes including mass killings of civilians, during the 26-year war, the United Nations said in a landmark report last year.

Sri Lanka has promised to implement the U.N. resolution adopted in October that calls for a special court with foreign judges to investigate.

But President Maithripala Sirisena, who came to power last year, is facing resistance to an investigation from political rivals led by his predecessor, Rajapaksa.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski said international participation in a special court had been emphasized because of “an erosion in the confidence” in Sri Lanka’s courts over the years.

“These are complicated issues and there needs to be a process of consultation with all in order to ensure these things are done in a way that earns confidence of the people,” Malinowski told a group of reporters in Colombo late on Thursday.

He said the U.N. resolution respected Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.

“Under the resolution, the government of Sri Lanka will determine the structure and the composition of the court,” he said, noting that Sri Lanka had made a commitment to include some international participation in the investigation.

The U.N. resolution also calls for an inquiry into missing people and progress in reconciliation.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in an annual report last month Sri Lanka must rein in its military forces, prosecute war crimes and win the confidence of the Tamil minority.

He also said witnesses must be protected under an effective transitional justice mechanism that should include international judges.

Rajapaksa, while president, rejected international intervention in addressing rights abuses and denied visas for top U.N. officials who wanted to assess conditions in the South Asian country after the war ended in May 2009.


  1. Now now Peter, be careful my little man. Please slow down, Walls have ears.

    You might end up in the refuge line next time you turn up in London Heathrow or JFK in New York!

    They have a habit of remembering these things, hence my non commital reply.
    Good luck man of the East!

  2. There was no international probe on what the West had done in Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan or Iraq. Why Sri Lanka’s civil war has to be investigated by international judges. Clearly, the West is trying to impose different law for others, in order to dictate its interests in the world. The East must understand one important thing. The West won’t let us to be on top that easily. Beating the West is not walking in a park. We must fight with them tactfully to defeat them. We must defeat the West by exposing its true evil face, and we Asians must work together as the World’s majority to ignore their orders. The Westerners who kill in millions and invaded others’ homelands on genocide for resources are preaching democracy, human rights, law and order and good governance, because we allow them to do so.

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