[JURIST] UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe [official profile] on Saturday urged the Sri Lankan government to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of war crimes during the civil war against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST archive]. After a visit to camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) [IDMC backgrounder], Pascoe also said [UN News Centre report] that the Sri Lankan government must make quicker progress in shutting down such camps and working toward political reconciliation among the country's warring ethnic factions. Speaking a press conference in Colombo, Pascoe said:
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in Government-run camps in Sri Lanka lack basic rights of freedom of movement, and the country is not making the expected progress towards a lasting peace in the wake of the end earlier this year to fighting between military forces and Tamil rebels.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [BBC profile] said that the government plans to resettle 265,000 displaced persons [BBC report] by January. In separate interviews, Rajapaksa pledged more development [press release] in the country to work toward a lasting peace, while accusing Western nations of hypocrisy [Indian Express report] for criticizing his plans.
In May, as the country's decades-long civil war was coming to an end, Rajapaksa denied [JURIST report] humanitarian groups full access to refugee camps, saying the camps still needed to be screened for rebel fighters. The UN and other organizations have accused [JURIST report] both the Sri Lankan military and LTTE of human rights violations during the conflict. The Sri Lankan government finished its internal investigation of human rights violations in June while refusing to permit [JURIST reports] an external probe to conduct a full investigation.