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Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 05.21 GMT
Any probe would be detrimental to sustainable peace Secretary to the President


An international inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka would bring chaos, and the government's national reconciliation process must be given several more years to work, Secretary to the President Mr. Lalith Weeratunga said on Monday.

Mr.Weeratunga, in Washington said Sri Lanka needed at least five years from the July 2012 date the government regards as the start of its reconciliation process for the effort to take root.

"After 26 years of conflict ... we want to make it a sustainable peace. It's a very delicate, delicate process. Reconciliation is not a task that can be achieved in a day or two," said Mr. Weeratunga.

The Secretary said an international inquiry would only reopen old wounds, as it would require investigation of all those involved in the conflict, including former rebels and Indian peacekeepers as well as the armed forces.

"There would be huge chaos in the country ... armed forces that liberated the country from terrorism would again be put to a judicial test. That is really going to reduce the morale of the army. These are things that need to be considered very carefully," he told Reuters in an interview.

"Why single out Sri Lanka for an international inquiry when ... other countries that have gone through more difficult issues are not be investigated?," he asked.

"If there is an international investigation, the whole period has to be investigated - from the 1980s onward - which includes the two-year tenure of the Indian peacekeeping force, which will upset India, which will upset our relationship with India."

Mr. Weeratunga said the government needed more time for its efforts to resolve land disputes, resettle people displaced by war and improve people's livelihoods.

He also said the government was investigating 13,000 cases of missing persons, a task complicated by the unwillingness of countries like Britain to provide information on people thought to be living there.

Ten cases of attacks on churches and mosques were being dealt with severely, he said, but added it took time to probe cases where there was no evidence as to who carried them out.






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Last modified: January 28, 2014.

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