Sri Lankan president pledges action on war crimes charges

EconomyNext – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Friday pledged action against alleged war crimes and appealed to foreign envoys in Colombo to show understanding for his new government’s efforts to improve relations with minority Tamils.

In a meeting with foeign envoys, Sirisena said his government wants good relations with the international community.

Since winning power in the January 8 presidential poll, Sirisena said the government had acted to win the confidence of Tamils and the international community.

The government has started to give back to people land seized by the military for security reasons during the ethnic war, and also removed restrictions imposed by the ousted Rajapaksa regime on foreigners travlling to the north and on non-governmental organsiations, he said.

Referring to the United Nations probe into alleged war crime by the military, Sirisena said the government has a "new policy with new thinking" regarding the inquiry by the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

"It is our position that we should act towards a domestic inquiry into related matters," he said.

"If, however, in such domestic inquiry credible and firm evidence emerges of any breach of International Humanitarian Law, the necessary action will be taken to bring such persons before the law."

"The international community should take notice of these changes," Sirisena said.

"I invite all of you as to extend to us the necessary assistance to overcome the challenges that we face as a developing country."

The UNHRC  is set to discuss a report on war crimes in Sri Lanka in March.

The government has said it hopes the UN would delay the report.

Sirisena said Foreign Minister Mangala Samarawera was set to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Friday and had also "extended an invitation to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights."

"We are paying special attention to the updating of our foreign policy with a positive restructuring that would be most beneficial to our international relations," he said.