Sri Lanka dismisses David Cameron's call for independent human rights inquiry

The Sri Lankan government has rejected the Prime Minister's pressure as cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan said he believes Mr Cameron has been “misled”.

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The Independent Online

David Cameron has once again called for a transparent and independent investigation into war crimes committed during Sri Lanka's 26 year long civil war, asserting that he backs a March deadline set by the UN.

Speaking to reporters during the Commonwealth conference in Colombo he said: “If that investigation is not completed by March then I will use our position on the UN Human Rights Council...and call for a full, credible and independent international inquiry.”

The calls by Cameron have however, once again been dismissed by the Sri Lankan government.

Basil Rajapakse, minister of economic development and the brother of the country’s president Mahinda Rajapaksa, told news agency AFP: “Why should we have an international inquiry? We will object to it … Definitely, we are not going to allow it,” he said.

His position was echoed by water minister, Nimal Siripala de Silva, who told reporters: “We will resist an international inquiry. That is the policy of the government.”

He dismissed the threat of UN pressure as “nothing new,” after several years of outcry from international human rights groups, the United Nations and Western governments. “We are confident to go before the UN Human Rights Council to contest this issue and impress upon them that Sri Lanka has done enough,” he added.

A UN report has suggested Sri Lanka's Sinhalese-dominated armed forces may have killed up to 40,000 minority Tamils toward the end of the war in 2009.

The continued defiance by the Sri Lankan government comes as retired Sri Lankan international cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, a Tamil, said he believes the Prime Minister had been “misled” about the latest situation in the war-scarred north after his visit on Friday.

Following a meeting between the two at a cricket ground in the capital Colombo, Muralitharan said: “My opinion is, there were problems in the last 30 years in those areas. Nobody could move there. In wartime I went with the UN, I saw the place, how it was.

“Now I regularly go and I see the place and it is about a 1,000 per cent improvement in facilities...It is improving. Thanks to the Sri Lankan army, they are putting a lot of effort there.

“He must have been misled by other people. People speak without going and seeing the things there. I go on and off. I see from my eyes there is improvement.

“I can't say the Prime Minister is wrong or not. He's from England, he hasn't seen the site, he hasn't gone and visited these places - yesterday only.”

Asked about Muralitharan's comments at a press conference, the Prime Minister insisted he had given a “fair reflection” of the need for improved human rights in Sri Lanka.

“I think he acknowledged that I was right to come and right to visit,” he said. ”Of course I was told all sorts of things yesterday in the north and there are very strong views in this country, strong differing views on some of the issues.”