Asia

UN human rights chief in Sri Lanka over atrocities probe

(U.N.) Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid bin Ra"ad Al Hussein arrives for a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, February 1, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption UN human rights chief Zeid bin Raad Al Hussein will spend four days in Sri Lanka

The UN's top human rights official has arrived in Sri Lanka amid concerns that the country's president is backtracking on promises to investigate war crimes.

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, will spend four days in the country.

Sri Lanka had committed to allowing foreign judges to investigate allegations against Sri Lankan forces.

But President Maithripala Sirisena last month said no foreign judges would be allowed in the investigation.

Sri Lankan troops are accused of killing at least 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of the civil war in 2009.

Mr Al Hussein will travel to the former war zone and will meet victims of human rights violations. He will also talk to top government officials, civil activists and religious leaders.

His follows a UN resolution last year, co-sponsored by the Sri Lankan government, that required foreign judges to assist in the investigation.

Speaking to the BBC last month, President Sirisena said Sri Lanka did not need to "import" specialists.

"We have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues," he said.

In October 2015, Sri Lanka co-sponsored a UN Human Rights Council resolution calling for a special judicial mechanism to prosecute war crimes.

Both the army and the Tamil Tiger rebels are accused of atrocities in the civil war that ended in 2009. As many as 100,000 people are thought to have died in the conflict.

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