Sri Lanka War Crimes Probe Headed Toward Showdown [Video]

Sri Lanka has been put on notice by British Prime Minister David Cameron. He says the nation’s probe into war crimes are not moving quickly enough. Cameron has called on the international community to conduct its own probe into allegations of atrocities committed by the Sri Lanka government during the country’s long civil war.

President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, says his government has nothing to hide. David Cameron, however, believes the leadership in Sri Lanka is dragging its feet on the internal war crimes probe. The British leader says that if the probe is not finished by next March he will call on the UN Human Rights Council to begin an independent international inquiry, reports Reuters.

Sri Lanka President Rajapaksa met with Cameron on Friday and Saturday during an ongoing Commonwealth summit in Colombo, reports to Sky News. Cameron says a single meeting will not solve these problems, but must lead to “a dialogue, a conversation.”

Sri Lanka had been embroiled in a bloody civil war with Tamil Tiger separatists for nearly 30 years. Military conflict ceased after government forces successfully crushed the remaining rebel fighters in 2009. During this final battle, 300,000 civilians were trapped on a small beach. A UN panel has estimated that as many as 40,000 perished as the forces clashed. While both rebel and government forces claimed civilian victims, army shelling is believed to have led to the worst of the carnage.

Since the end of the conflict, the Sri Lanka government has been accused of harassing and even attacking critics and journalists. To this day the army has maintained a strong presence in former Tamil rebel strongholds on the north of the island, where they allegedly harass ethnic Tamil citizens.

During his visit to the island nation, British Prime Minister David Cameron toured the northern region where years of conflict are still visible. Sky News says Cameron met displaced families and faced protesters who say their families were killed by the Sri Lanka government.

Cameron’s recent call for a war crime probe in the war-torn nation was slammed by Sri Lanka economic minister Basil Rajapaksa, who says such an investigation will “definitely” not be allowed.

[Image of President Rajapaksa via photopin cc]