Sri Lanka will not grant visas to UN investigators probing war crimes allegedly committed during the island’s decades-long separatist conflict, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said Tuesday.
“We will not allow them into the country,” said Rajapaksa, who is under international pressure to cooperate with the UN-mandated investigation.
Sri Lanka has refused to accept the authority of the UN Human Rights Council which voted in March to probe allegations that the military killed 40,000 civilians in the final months of the separatist war, which ended in 2009.
But it is the first time that Rajapaksa has said UN investigators will not be allowed into the country, effectively barring them from face-to-face access to Sri Lankans wanting to testify in the probe.
Rajapaksa said however that his government was cooperating with all other UN agencies.
“We are saying that we do not accept it (the probe). We are against it,” he told Colombo-based foreign correspondents at his official residence.
“But when it comes to other UN agencies, we are always ready to fully cooperate and fully engage with them,” he said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other leaders have urged Colombo to cooperate with the UNHRC after ending a prolonged separatist war that pitted ethnic minority Tamil rebels and the largely Sinhalese army in a drawn out ethnic war.