Sri Lanka needs to take accountability for serious allegations of war crimes committed during its 25-year civil war, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Thursday. Baird’s comments to MPs at the Commons foreign affairs committee come after Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly criticized Sri Lanka over its human rights record during the Commonwealth meeting in Australia in October.
“Other countries have taken 10 years for reconciliation, other countries never reconcile,” Baird said. “But it’s incredibly important.”
Sri Lanka’s government has denied its forces committed war crimes and refused any investigation.
Baird praised the UN for publishing a recent report on Sri Lanka contradicting the government’s position, a report the minister called “deeply disturbing.”
The South Asian nation is under growing Western pressure to probe allegations of war crimes following the end of the conflict with Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009.
“Two years after the civil war we’ve seen no meaningful attempt at reconciliation with the Tamil minority,” Baird said.
“We’ve also seen a growing authoritarian trend by the government in Colombo.”
Harper has threatened to boycott the Commonwealth 2013 heads of government summit in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo if the government fails to launch an investigation into allegations its military engaged in indiscriminate shelling of civilians and bombed hospitals in 2009