Sri Lankan President says own steps under way to probe killings

GENEVA, June 15, 2007 (AFP) – President Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka and senior Sri Lankan officials said Friday that they were taking their own steps to find the truth behind recent killings of humanitarian workers and alleged rights violations. However, Rajapakse stopped short of responding directly to an appeal Amnesty International made to him Thursday, to invite UN monitors to verify claims of human rights violations by both sides in the country’s bitter ethnic civil war.

In speech to the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Rajapakse highlighted the role played by a presidential commission of inquiry “to investigate some of the killings that had happened in the past.”

An international group of eminent persons was overseeing the inquiry, while an invitation to all parties to form a joint conference would help political reform and “address the grievances of minorities,” he added.

“Unfortunately it is our flexibility and sincerity that seems to encourage the global non-governmental community to demand further involvement,” he told the ILO conference.

After meeting the president here Thursday, Amnesty’s Secretary General Irene Khan said an escalation of rights abuses over the past 18 months had shown domestic institut