US sends envoy to Sri Lanka to discuss war crimes claims

COLOMBO, January 5, 2014 (AFP) – A top US envoy will travel to Sri Lanka on Monday to discuss allegations of war crimes ahead of a UN review of Colombo’s human rights record, officials said. US Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Stephen Rapp will spend five days in Sri Lanka discussing rights and reconciliation following the decades-long separatist war, the US State department said.

Rapp will meet with government, political and civil society officials “on a range of issues focusing on Sri Lanka’s justice, accountability, and reconciliation processes,” the US State Department said in a short statement on its website. The visit comes as the UN Human Rights Council meets in March to discuss whether Sri Lanka has shown progress towards reining in alleged rights abuses and investigated suspected war crimes.

The UN estimates that the conflict for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils in the Sinhalese-majority nation cost at least 100,000 lives between 1972 and 2009.

Sri Lanka has resisted calls to investigate allegations that up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed by the security forces during the final push that crushed the Tamil rebels.

UN rights chief Navi Pillay

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