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UN calls for SL probe into rights abuse charges

A top UN official issued a strong call for 'truth-seeking' into alleged excesses by security forces during the crushing of Tamil rebels as he ended a visit to Sri Lanka, a UN statement said.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2009 13:21 IST

A top UN official issued a strong call for "truth-seeking" into alleged excesses by security forces during the crushing of Tamil rebels as he ended a visit to Sri Lanka, a UN statement said on Saturday.

"We feel that ideally the Sri Lankans should carry out a national process of truth-seeking and accountability," the UN's political chief Lynn Pascoe said in the statement issued in Colombo after his departure late on Friday.

Pascoe, undersecretary general for political affairs, asked President Mahinda Rajapakse to set up a process to ensure accountability for alleged war crimes, said the statement.

"The (truth-seeking) process has to be serious, independent and impartial," said Pascoe, a deputy to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Sri Lanka has consistently resisted US- and European-led calls for war crimes investigations, saying that no civilians were killed by its security forces.

"Coming to grips with the past is difficult," the UN statement said.

"Sweeping it under the rug could be a tempting shortcut, but it can have a high price at a later time," the statement added.

At a press conference just before leaving the island, Pascoe expressed "strong concerns" over Sri Lanka's war refugees and said the government had been slow to resettle tens of thousands of displaced civilians.

"We have not seen the progress we expected from that agreement," he said of a deal between Colombo and Ban in May, just after the government declared that the decades-long separatist war was over.

The agreement was for the speedy resettlement of 300,000 internally displaced people who were driven out of their homes after the end of fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.