Australia wants UN rights body to probe Sri Lanka

PERTH, October 26, 2011 (AFP) – Australia Wednesday urged the UN rights watchdog to probe alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, ramping up pressure ahead of a meeting between the two countries’ leaders at Commonwealth talks. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the UN Human Rights Council must address accusations that Sri Lankan troops killed tens of thousands of civilians in their final offensive against Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009.

He also said Sri Lanka, which strongly denies any wrongdoing by government forces, should investigate the claims as part of its own Reconciliation Commission report, due out next month.

“It is of fundamental importance that the upcoming Reconciliation Commission report deal with various questions which have now been raised in the UN report on allegations of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka,” Rudd said.

“Australia’s national position is that the Human Rights Council also needs to revisit its earlier deliberations on this matter.”

Rudd’s comments set the scene for a tense bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and President Mahendra Rajapakse in Perth on Wednesday ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) starting Friday.