March 1, 2017 / 6:12 PM / 8 months ago

Sri Lanka's Tamil party asks for U.N. pressure over alleged war crimes

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party has asked the United Nations to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes committed during the country’s 26-year war against Tamil separatists.

Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran Parliament member from main opposition party Tamil National Alliance speaks at the Sri Lanka's Foreign Correspondent Association forum in Colombo, Sri Lanka February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

The government agreed in 2015 to act on the reports of human rights abuses but has done nothing since, M. A. Sumanthiran, a legislator and spokesman for Tamil National Alliance, said late on Tuesday.

The government “must be encouraged and made to accomplish every one of those undertakings that they agreed to,” Sumanthiran told a Foreign Correspondents’ Association forum in Colombo.

The U.N. and rights activists have accused the military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly Tamils, during the final weeks of the war and have urged justice for the families of those who disappeared.

But President Maithripala Sirisena’s government is struggling to implement the UN resolutions, which are politically unpopular. He has backtracked on giving foreign judges a role in any investigation and prosecution.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, speaking at UN session in Geneva on Tuesday, said the government would form a “truth-seeking commission” to investigate conduct during the civil war.

“Our resolve to see the transitional justice process through has not diminished,” Samaraweera told the UN session.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal, editing by Larry King

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