Sri Lanka could be hauled before a war crimes tribunal over the killing of "many thousands of civilians" in the final months of its separatist war with Tamil rebels, a top US official said.
In the toughest warning since the end of fighting in May 2009, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, said Sri Lanka risked a forced international investigation.
His remarks came as the UN Human Rights Council was meeting in Geneva, where Sri Lanka has previously managed to avoid condemnation, thanks to the backing of several nations, including strong allies China and Russia.
Blake, a former ambassador to Sri Lanka, said it was "preferable" for Sri Lanka to have its own investigation in line with internationally accepted human rights standards, rather than face an external inquiry.
"It's important to say that if Sri Lanka is not willing to meet international standards regarding these matters, there would be pressure to appoint an international commission to look into these things," said Blake.
Sri Lanka has refused to investigate alleged war crimes, but President Mahinda Rajapakse has appointed a panel to probe why a 2002 ceasefire between the government and the Tamil rebels broke down.
International rights groups have rejected the government-appointed panel as eyewash, saying it fails to address war crimes by both sides during the 37-year conflict.
Sri Lanka's relations with the US were strained in 2009 when Washington voiced concern about human rights as the army killed the top leadership of the Tamil Tiger rebels, ending decades of insurgency.
After urging from the Tamil diaspora, a number of US lawmakers have pushed President Barack Obama's administration to take a harder line on Sri Lanka.
In a video interview from Washington on Monday, Blake said reconciliation, accountability and human rights were among the key elements the US wanted to see to normalise ties with the South Asian nation.
"The UN has estimated that many thousands of civilians were killed in the final few months of the war," Blake said.
The UN said that at least 7,000 civilians perished in the final months of fighting, while international rights groups have put the toll at more than 30,000.
Blake cited the UN Security Council reporting Libya to the International Criminal Court last week as a signal of global concern over human rights.
He said he was not comparing Sri Lanka with Libya, but said the Security Council's unanimous decision against Libya over the weekend underscored the resolve of the international community regarding crimes against humanity. (Agencies)
Comments - 37
cracko Tuesday, 01 March 2011 12:50 PM
Sri Lanka Amazing. No human rights, no accountability, no reconcilliation. What do you expect?
Shane Tuesday, 01 March 2011 12:50 PM
LTTE boot licking Blacke, try and see.
SF Tuesday, 01 March 2011 12:53 PM
what about the war crimes committed by the USA? all this is just to please the tamil voter base in USA.... pathetic!
Appuhamy Tuesday, 01 March 2011 12:53 PM
It is time for government to send strong country representatives who could imrpove Sri Lanka's image instead of henchmen. To RB: Wikileaks already revealed how US meddled with our country during war against LTTE terrorists and may we suggest you to start probing WMD claims (by your former boss)?
gona Tuesday, 01 March 2011 09:15 PM
Wonder how much it cost to get Mr Blake to make the statement. Money that would be better spent caring for those in the North.
Guru Tuesday, 01 March 2011 09:32 PM
Please go ahead with war crime charges.
Minnal Sri Tuesday, 01 March 2011 10:31 PM
Every Srilankan should join hands with international community and investigate the war crines. If not the same fate will come to poor Sinhalese who oppose Mahinda's regime..
Titanic Tuesday, 01 March 2011 10:38 PM
Israil is killing Palastinians, USA, why double standard ?
Siripala Tuesday, 01 March 2011 10:54 PM
So should the US for killing thousands of innocent Iraqis!
Kalani Raja Tuesday, 01 March 2011 11:22 PM
Mr Blake, we know how you won hearts and minds of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Please take a good look at your own backyard first.
Indi Wednesday, 02 March 2011 12:51 AM
Always same story, anything new please
Big Boss Wednesday, 02 March 2011 01:07 AM
the so called " Global concern for crimes against humanity " is always a pending question untill the world solve the sri lanka war crimes issue.
Silva Wednesday, 02 March 2011 01:08 AM
for sure, srilanka govt have big time ahead when supper powers turn aginst it
Sam of Hong Kong Tuesday, 01 March 2011 02:39 PM
What can I say,the dirty crow is back yet again.
Ahm Tuesday, 01 March 2011 02:46 PM
Please US you have committed enough war crimes of your own so clean yourself first before others. We are proud to be a country that defeated terrorism unlike you.
Not-A-Rajapaksa Wednesday, 02 March 2011 01:26 AM
How long ago did we find "petrol in our coastal beds?" This kind of rubbish does nothing but make all Sri Lankans look like IDIOTS!
kenny_fdo Wednesday, 02 March 2011 01:19 AM
Just go face and prove that we have done nothing wrong. shouting here would say that we are more guilty than innocent.
Pedro Tuesday, 01 March 2011 02:59 PM
It is not as simple as that. There is hardly any relevant Tamil voter base in the USA and as a career diplomat Mr. Blake is not facing any election.
cyber cop Tuesday, 01 March 2011 03:06 PM
1st have a war crimes tribunal for US crimes in Iraq & Afganistan.....So you can lead by example....
raj Tuesday, 01 March 2011 03:02 PM
I guess world is chaning compare to three years ago.
C.K.Lankaputhra Wednesday, 02 March 2011 02:45 AM
God's mill is slow but sure.
peaceful citizen Tuesday, 01 March 2011 03:41 PM
what about the innocent people in Colombo city who died in the hands of terrorrists by bomb blasts???? why dont they talk about those people?
Konde bendapu china Tuesday, 01 March 2011 03:46 PM
when this man was envoy to SL he made discouraging comments of military solution and now again come up with war crime
JaY Wednesday, 02 March 2011 03:35 AM
Get your house in order first, Mr. Blake
Fayad Bakir Tuesday, 01 March 2011 03:58 PM
why don't you see the possibility of bringing your own leaders to the war crime probe ????
Navin Tuesday, 01 March 2011 04:04 PM
but his boss Hilary is.
eddy Wednesday, 02 March 2011 03:57 AM
the colourful language used by Robert blake and others Pro tte should uderstand the issue is white flag.When Innocent civilians,men,woman,children were blown in buses,trains and buildings where were the observance of white flags,where was the concerns or war crimes against these killers terrorist. Abetting the terrorist and terrorism is a serious war crime. So if anyone brings the issue of war crime are firstly abetting the terrorist. Secondly terrorism should not be represented but eliminated Threatening and taking pot shots against the Government is another form of terrorism.All Parties must persue against terrorism,instead of representing them. Where is the rule of law.
nagu Wednesday, 02 March 2011 04:08 AM
Always trying to interfere and create trouble....
Shiral Soysa Wednesday, 02 March 2011 04:09 AM
What about Assange?
channa Wednesday, 02 March 2011 04:09 AM
Its seems USA has forgotten the 9/11.....be careful....
sxhabeeb Tuesday, 01 March 2011 04:48 PM
the reason we found petrol in our costal beds.
SL1o1 Wednesday, 02 March 2011 04:44 AM
you do know that hilary received money from the LTTE and then had to sheepishly give it back when the media found out. So will we see HR commissions towards the end of the Iraq war or Afghan war? Since those wars are never ending may be someday.
Ezhilini Wednesday, 02 March 2011 04:44 AM
Without taliking about Iraq and afghan, why we are not thinking to proof SL govt is clean and it did not commit war crimes? These comments say that SL did so as they ponting USA s war crimes. Like school children.
jacky good citizen Wednesday, 02 March 2011 04:52 AM
there are some people who took advantage of the war to commit crimes including killings innocent and saying they are LTTE members, they should be investigated and punished
R.V. Nawaz Wednesday, 02 March 2011 05:05 AM
Why dont they look into war crimes of killing innnocenst in Iraq and the rest of the world. first arrest the leaders of their countries without pointing fingers at us..
Palani Wednesday, 02 March 2011 05:14 AM
well said it is not for Tamil or Sinhales its for mother Lanka
MR is not SL
Lanke Banda Wednesday, 02 March 2011 05:55 AM
US is behind all the disturbances & turmoils in foreign Countries. US should be investigated for Interference in sovereignity of Indipendant countries & action taken.
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