Sri Lanka minister says U.N. rights chief's report won't be fair

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 29, 2013 8:58 AM
Sri Lanka minister says U.N. rights chief's report won't be fair

By Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal

COLOMBO (Reuters) - A Sri Lankan minister on Thursday accused U.N. Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, assessing the country four years after the end of a brutal civil war, of acting without transparency and said her report will be unfair.

Amid protests for and against a seven-day visit to assess human rights, Pillay visited former northern war zones in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaiteevu and the eastern district of Trincomalee.

Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa, the leader of the National Freedom Front, a hardline nationalist political party in President Mahinda Rajapaksa's ruling coalition, criticized her itinerary.

"There is a problem on whether she is working with transparency," Weerawansa told reporters in Colombo. "In Trincomalee yesterday, she secretly met some people, who were not in the normal schedule. She is also scheduled to meet some people who are critical of the country. So our view is she is not going to submit a fair report (to the UN)."

Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Pillay had freedom to meet whomever she chose during her visit which ended on Wednesday.

Pillay's visit followed a second U.S.-sponsored U.N. resolution in March this year that urged Sri Lanka to carry out credible investigations into killings and disappearances during the war, especially in the final stages.

A U.N. panel said earlier it had "credible allegations" that Sri Lankan troops and rebels both carried out atrocities and war crimes, and singled out the government for most of the blame.

The Sri Lanka government battled separatist Tamil guerrillas from 1983 until 2009.

Tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the final months of the war, a U.N. panel said earlier, as government troops advanced on the rebels' last stronghold and many hundreds of people, most of them Tamils, simply disappeared.

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Nick Macfie)