Sri Lanka to discuss new war crimes probe with UN

Updated 21 February 2015
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Sri Lanka to discuss new war crimes probe with UN

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's newly-elected government will next month look to win UN backing for a domestic probe into alleged war crimes under former leader Mahinda Rajapakse, an official said.
The investigation, which the new administration had promised after winning January elections, comes after the previous regime resisted a UN inquiry into claims that up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed under Rajapakse's command in the final months of a war that ended in May 2009.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera will travel to Geneva next month to meet UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It gave no details, but an official said the new Sri Lankan administration was keen to get his backing for the investigation.
"Minister Samaraweera wants to brief the Human Rights Council about the new steps that Sri Lanka wishes to take," an official said.
"Sri Lanka is looking for about two months to establish a new (domestic) mechanism."
The government has pledged a credible, independent investigation that may draw on foreign expertise and experience.
Last week, the UN postponed the publication of an eagerly-awaited report on a UN-mandated war crimes probe into Sri Lanka's brutal separatist war, giving the new government time to prove its bona fides.
Zeid's office in a statement last week said the report, which had been scheduled to be presented to the Human Rights Council early next month, would be published by September.
Samaraweera's talks with Zeid come after the government secured parliamentary approval for a long-awaited witness protection law, a key demand of the international community to ensure accountability in the island.
The new government has also pledged to enact a right to information law, another demand of both local and international rights activists who accused the previous regime of persecuting and silencing critics and dissidents.
Former strongman Rajapaksa, who ruled the country for a decade, had insisted that not a single civilian was killed while crushing Tamil rebels and refused to cooperate with any foreign probe, a move that drew international censure.
The UN estimates at least 100,000 people were killed in the conflict against the Tamils between 1972 and 2009.


Woman blows herself up in Chechen capital Grozny — RIA

A Chechen Interior Ministry servicemen stands guard at the site of the counter-terrorism operation, near a local media building known as the Press House, in the Chechen capital Grozny, in this December 4, 2014 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 min 28 sec ago
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Woman blows herself up in Chechen capital Grozny — RIA

  • The wider North Caucasus region remains volatile, however, with unemployment and corruption pushing some young men to embrace radical Islam

MOSCOW: A young woman blew herself up on Saturday near a police checkpoint in the Chechen capital Grozny in southern Russia but nobody else was killed or injured, RIA news agency said.
Police asked her to stop and present her documents but when she refused to obey they saw she was carrying a home-made explosive device. They fired a warning shot and she detonated the device, Interfax news agency reported.
The once restive province of Chechnya has been mostly calm in recent years under the iron rule of regional strongman Ramzan Kadyrov after Moscow fought two wars with separatists in the 1990s and 2000s following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
However, in August militants staged a series of attacks on police targets in Chechnya and Daesh claimed responsibility, without providing any evidence.
The wider North Caucasus region remains volatile, however, with unemployment and corruption pushing some young men to embrace radical Islam.