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27 February 2024

US backs UN motion to probe SL alleged crimes


The United States said Monday it would back a motion at a UN human rights council meeting to press Sri Lanka to probe alleged war crimes during the island's civil war.

Human rights groups claim that up to 40,000 civilians perished in the final months of the government's military campaign to crush the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, but Colombo maintains no civilians were killed by its troops.

Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, said she discussed "accountability and reconcillation" with Sri Lankan government officials during a two-day visit to the island.

"I confirm that the US will support a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council in March" pushing Sri Lanka to look into the allegations of war crimes by its security forces, Otero told reporters in Colombo.

Sri Lanka has avoided previous censures by the rights council with the backing of Russia and China. India, the island's closest neighbor, has also supported Colombo in fending off censure.

Despite Sri Lanka's claims that its troops killed no civilians, a government-appointed war panel, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), said civilians may have died due to the military action.

The LLRC has called for an independent investigation into the allegations of civilian deaths.

Otero was the most senior US government official to visit Sri Lanka since Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2005.

She also met political leaders, civil society leaders and journalists during her visit which ends on Tuesday.

The UN estimates some 100,000 people perished during Sri Lanka's 37-year ethnic conflict.