Sri Lanka asks UN not to publish war crimes report

April 21, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka asked the United Nations on Thursday not to publish a forthcoming report on alleged war crimes during the island’s ethnic war, saying it could set back reconciliation efforts. President Mahinda Rajapakse has asked his supporters to turn this year’s May Day rally into a demonstration against any UN war crimes investigation. Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris warned UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about releasing the study compiled by a panel of experts who looked into alleged rights abuses and crimes against humanity during the war which ended in 2009.

“The publication of this report will cause irreparable damage to the reconciliation efforts of Sri Lanka. It will damage the UN system too,” Peiris told reporters in Colombo. “This UN report is preposterous.”

Peiris stressed that the government had never accepted Ban’s appointment of the panel and warned him about initiating a full enquiry into suspected civilian deaths during the final stages of fighting.

He declined comment on the contents of the report, a copy of which was handed over to him nine days ago, even though parts of the 200-page document have been leaked in pro-government newspaper Island last weekend.