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Sirisena hopes for new beginning

Sirisena hopes for new beginning
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This is his maiden foreign trip after he assumed charge last month. During the visit, the 63-year-old leader is expected to meet his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee besides holding talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on key issues, including peace and reconciliation process in his country.

Sirisena should seize the “historic” opportunity to ensure justice and accountability in respect of the alleged war crimes which occurred during the civil war in the island nation, Amnesty International India (AII) said on Sunday. “Sri Lankan President Sirisena’s ambitious plans for reform and reconciliation should lay special emphasis on ensuring justice, accountability and the rule of law,” said a statement from AII.

“President Sirisena has an extraordinary opportunity to improve relations between communities in Sri Lanka, and usher in an era of true reconciliation based on justice, equality, freedom and dignity,” said Shemeer Babu, AII Programmes Director. Sirisena has taken important steps to restore the independence of the judiciary and other important institutions. It is crucial that the government does not neglect issues of justice and accountability, Babu added.

“Colombo must now act to end discrimination and impunity, ensure impartial investigations into human rights abuses, and protect free speech,” he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should extend all support to the Sri Lankan president and work with him to push reforms in the crucial areas of justice and accountability, he said.

Sirisena has promised that Colombo would conduct domestic investigations into the alleged crimes under international law. “These investigations must be conducted promptly and in good faith, with independence, adequate resources and effective witness protection,” said Babu.

Domestic investigations will not negate the need for continued international action and engagement to ensure justice and accountability in Sri Lanka, he added. “The new Sri Lankan government should extend the support and cooperation to the ongoing UN investigations that was missing while the previous government was in power,” he said.
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