The US Embassy yesterday reiterated the calls for ‘an independent and credible investigation’ into allegations of war crimes during the final phase of the war as US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice, Stephen J. Rapp, toured the former war zones and met with the survivors.
Rapp’s visit came ahead of the forthcoming United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session scheduled for March in Geneva.
“The Ambassador met several survivors. Shelling and killings of civilians were among the reports that we heard from survivors,” Christopher Teal, Director of Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Sri Lanka and the Maldives said.
“That is why a credible independent investigation is necessary,” he added.
He said, Ambassador Rapp visited sites where ‘there was the final battle, when the accusations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses by the government were the greatest.’
Ambassador Rapp’s visit came in the wake of speculations that the US and its EU partners were planning to sponsor an adverse resolution on Sri Lanka at the forthcoming UNHRC sessions to be held in March. UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, earlier told the British press that the UK is considering co-sponsoring a resolution on Sri Lanka. Cameron earlier set an ultimatum for Sri Lanka to complete domestic investigations by March or risk an international war crime trial.Ambassador Rapp, who visited Jaffna early this week, was into a rude shock when the media personnel who were scheduled to meet him walked up to him and complained about being harassed by military intelligence operatives in plain clothes.
The military spokesman later denied the allegations. The Army also accused the US Embassy in Colombo of making ‘baseless allegations,’ after the embassy tweeted saying the Army was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Sri Lanka’s North during the country’s three-decade war that ended in 2009.
The US Embassy in Colombo on Thursday tweeted a picture of Ambassador Rapp and the US Ambassador in Colombo, Michele J. Sison, inspecting a location in the North, which was shelled during the final stages of the war between the Army and Tamil Tiger rebels.