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Lanka allows UN panel to visit Colombo

Press Trust Of India
Dec 18, 2010 at 05:02pm IST

Colombo: The government on Saturday softened its stance by allowing an UN experts panel probing alleged war crimes in the country to make representation before a Sri Lankan commission looking into the ethnic conflict that ended last May.

The government assures that it will make arrangements for the UN experts panel to make representation before the government-appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the external affairs ministry announced.

"This position has already been conveyed through diplomatic channels to the United Nations in New York," the ministry said in a statement.

Lanka allows UN panel to visit Colombo

LLRC was appointed by the Sri Lanka President to look into events during the war.

Earlier in the day, ministry spokesperson said that "it will consider when a request is made."

As set out in the LLRC's mandate, the ministry said the government has the responsibility to facilitate those desirous of presenting representations, the statement added.

The LLRC was appointed by the President Mahinda Rajapksha to look into events during the war and make recommendations to avoid such repetition.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday that his panel of experts "is now able to visit Sri Lanka and meet with the Commission on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation," praising the "the flexibility of President Rajapksha on this issue".

Lanka said earlier that it would not allow the panel to visit the country, calling it an infringement of its sovereignty.

Three international non governmental organisations, the New York-based Human Rights Watch, London-based Amnesty International and Brussels-based International Crisis Group have snubbed an invitation to appear before the LLRC last month, accusing it of a cover-up and lacking credibility.

Both the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lanka's government have been accused by human rights groups of committing crimes against humanity during the last phase of the three-decade-long conflict that ended in May 2009.

The government has strongly rejected any UN or independent probe of war crime allegations, saying it will conduct its own probe into the ethnic conflict.

The LLRC for its part has said that it must be judged by its performance and not prejudice.

The LTTE had launched their armed struggle to create an independent homeland for Sri Lanka s Tamils to protect them from alleged discrimination at the hands of the ethnic Sinhalese majority.

The government forces crushed the rebels last year, ending three decades of civil war that killed between 80,000 and 100,000 people.

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