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Truth seeking needed in Sri Lanka

September 20, 2009

AFP UN urges Sri Lanka to probe war crimes charges

A top UN official issued a strong call for “truth-seeking” into alleged excesses by security forces during the crushing of Tamil rebels as he ended a visit to Sri Lanka, a UN statement said on Saturday.

“We feel that ideally the Sri Lankans should carry out a national process of truth-seeking and accountability,” the UN’s political chief Lynn Pascoe said a statement issued in Colombo after his departure late on Friday.

…”The (truth-seeking) process has to be serious, independent and impartial,” said Pascoe, a deputy to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

…”Coming to grips with the past is difficult,” the UN statement said.

“Sweeping it under the rug could be a tempting shortcut, but it can have a high price at a later time,” the statement added.

The UN statement said reconciliation was important for the island’s future.

“The UN has dealt with the aftermath of many conflicts around the world, and has learnt that moving forward and building peace sometimes requires finding a way to address issues of accountability,” the UN statement said.

…At a press conference just before leaving the island, Pascoe expressed “strong concerns” over Sri Lanka’s war refugees and said the government had been slow to resettle tens of thousands of displaced civilians.

“We have not seen the progress we expected from that agreement,” he said of a deal between Colombo and Ban in May, just after the government declared the decades-long separatist war was over.

…”Clearly, the government is making a lot of effort, but we have some strong concerns — particularly the ‘closed’ nature of the camps,” Pascoe told reporters after touring camps where ethnic Tamil civilians are held in what rights groups say are prison-like conditions.

“We picked up great frustrations. I was told by many that they just wanted to go home,” Pascoe added. “I urged the government to allow people who were screened to be allowed to leave.”

Read full article here.

UN concerned over S Lankan refugees

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