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Japan envoy backs UN war crimes probe into Sri Lanka conflict

A diplomat with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] said Sunday that Japan supports UN efforts to address alleged war crimes committed during the final phase of Sri Lanka's 30-year ethnic civil war [JURIST news archive] that ended last year. Yasushi Akashi, the government's Representative for Peace-Building, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in Sri Lanka, made the announcement after a five-day visit to Sri Lanka [press release] during which he met with Sri Lankan government officials. Akashi said the Japanese government supports the establishment of an advisory panel [JURIST report] by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile], even though Sri Lanka opposes an international investigation [JURIST report] into the claims. Akashi went on to say that the panel would be useful [AFP report] on a consultation basis but should not interfere with the nation's ongoing internal investigation. The advisory panel was organized after UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay [official website] called for an international inquiry into the conduct of the Sri Lankan government during the civil war.

In May the International Crisis Group (ICG) [official website] accused Sri Lankan security forces of commiting war crimes [JURIST report] during the last months of the conflict. The ICG claimed that it had acquired enough evidence supporting allegations of shelling civilians, hospitals, and environmental facilities to warrant a independent inquiry by the UN on war crimes in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government claims that no civilians were killed during the final months of the war.

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