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Sri Lanka parliament rejects UN war probe

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Sri Lanka's parliament Wednesday rejected a UN-mandated investigation into alleged war crimes while crushing separatist Tamil rebels five years ago.

Ruling party lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to resist a probe by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in line with a US-initiated censure move in March.

The parliament said "the probe should not be carried out on the ground that such a course of action is detrimental to the process of reconciliation and peace."

The government of President Mahinda Rajapakse, which enjoys a two-thirds majority in the 225-member assembly, said the UN probe also "erodes the sovereignty, dignity and stature of Sri Lanka."

President Rajapakse himself had earlier rejected the UN probe into charges that up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed by security forces while crushing Tamil separatists in May 2009.

Two opposition parties drawing their support from the majority Sinhalese community said they too would not support the UN inquiry, but insisted that Colombo set up a domestic process to probe the allegations.

The Sri Lankan parliament's rejection is not binding on the United Nations Human Rights Council. However the rejection is more a symbolic move that underscores Colombo's hardline attitude towards the UN rights body.

International rights groups say rights abuses continue in Sri Lanka even after the end of a decades-old separatist war that claimed at least 100,000 lives, according to UN estimates.

Colombo strongly denies that its troops killed any civilians, but instead says the defeated Tamil Tiger guerrillas used non-combatants as a human shield.

Rights groups have accused both sides of targeting civilians.

aj/jom

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131115/myanmar-frees-69-political-prisoners-2