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Photograph: EPA/LAURENT GILLIERON

Sri Lanka assured the visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on Tuesday that it would adhere to its commitments on human rights and probe war crimes during the final phases of the civil conflict that ended seven years ago.

The assurance came during separate meetings between Zeid, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on a four-day visit to the country.

"I have heard fears that the government may be wavering on its human rights commitments. I was therefore reassured this morning to hear both the president and the prime minister state their firm conviction in this regard," Zeid told a news conference.

The concerns have been raised mainly by minority Tamils in northern Sri Lanka and the political parties representing them.

The UN passed a resolution in September last year to set up an independent judicial mechanism to investigate the allegations under international humanitarian law, while Sri Lanka has promised to have its own mechanism with local judges.

Zeid warned however that "it will have no effect if the victims feel that justice is not done."

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his loyalists are campaigning against a war crimes probe by foreign judges as they say it will affect the soldiers who defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels to end the conflict in 2009.

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