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No visa for UN panel, Lanka also takes on EU

world Updated: Jun 24, 2010 19:24 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
Sutirtho Patranobis

Sri Lanka will not allow the three-member United Nations panel set up to probe war crimes allegations during the end of the civil conflict between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels to enter the country, a top minister said on Thursday.

The statement from the government came even as UN panel said that it would also consider the actions of the Tamil Tigers during the final stage of the civil war.

Panel chairman Marzuki Darusman told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific program that he will also look into the actions of the rebels during the final months of the civil war.

``This [investigation] would then cover - without any distinction - acts that were committed in the course of that conflict," Darusman said.

But external affairs minister GL Peiris said the government would not issue visas to the UN panel.

"We will not issue visas to the panel. We don't think we need them," Peiris told reporters.

``This exercise is not helpful and the timing is questionable," Peiris said. "We have our own commission. (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) setting a separate UN panel will only complicate matters for our commission," he said.

Besides the UN, the Lankan government has also been under pressure from the European Union.

The EU has threatened to withdraw trade concessions if certain conditions – including the lifting of emergency laws and making the police and judiciary independent from Presidential influence – were not met.

"We were not prepared to obtain these concessions at any cost. That's not the attitude of a self-respecting government," Peiris said.

"These are matters in which the judgment must be made by an elected government. These are not matters in which any foreign government can take decisions," he said.

Sri Lanka’ stand on the issue, according to Reuters, could cost it about €100-million annually, with its biggest trade partner for garments, one of its top foreign exchange earners, and other products.