Sri Lanka asked by France to end emergency, probe war crimes

November 7, 2009 (AFP) – A top French envoy Saturday asked Sri Lanka to end its state of emergency and probe war crimes ahead of a key European Union ruling on trade concessions to the troubled island. Ambassador for Human Rights, Francois Zimeray, said he hoped Colombo will signal the ending of its war with Tamil rebels in May by withdrawing emergency laws which allowed the detention of suspects for long periods without trial.

“Ending of the emergency (in force since 1983) should have been the first consequence of ending the war (in May),” he said at the end of three-days of talks with key Sri Lankan leaders on the island’s human rights situation.

“The fact that the conflict is over should be an opportunity to put an end to emergency laws,” he said referring to the draconian legislation which was also used in August to jail an editor for 20 years.

He echoed international calls to probe alleged war crimes in the final stages of the fighting and said Colombo should allow independent investigations to ensure that a culture of impunity did not persist.

His visit, which took place against the backdrop of a European Union probe into the island’s human rights record, could influence