Top UN official to press Sri Lanka for rights probe

September 16, 2009 (AFP) – A top UN official was expected in Sri Lanka Wednesday to press for a probe into possible rights abuses during the final stages of the military’s victory over Tamil rebels. UN under secretary general for political affairs Lynn Pascoe was sent by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who has voiced concern over delays in releasing thousands of displaced Tamil civilians held in government-run camps.

Pascoe’s discussions here would focus on “the resettlement of internally displaced persons, political reconciliation and the establishment of a mechanism of accountability for alleged human rights violations in the context of the conflict,” a UN statement said.

Sri Lanka has resisted calls for war crimes investigations into its crushing of the long-running Tamil separatist insurgency and managed to stave off a UN security council discussion on the issue thanks to support from China and Russia.

The UN has said that up to 7,000 civilians may have perished in the first few months of this year when security forces escalated their offensive against the remnants of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Sri Lanka denies any civilian was killed by its secu