Sri Lanka bans landmines

Sri Lankan government announces it would ban landmines and promised to destroy its stockpiles of explosive devices, nearly seven years after its protracted civil war ended

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

A soldier searches for mines.

Seven years after the end of the civil war, Sri Lanka today decided to ban landmines and promised to destroy its stockpiles of explosive devices on Thursday.

Northern and eastern provinces in Sri Lanka have been severely affected by landmines and explosives due to the conflict in Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka has decided to ratify the anti-personnel mine ban convention also known as the Ottawa Convention, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of mines.

The cabinet had decided to sign the 1997 UN treaty which banned anti-personnel mines, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva.

"We decided to sign the Ottawa Convention because we have no intention of going to war again," de Silva told reporters in Colombo.

"We have also agreed to destroy stockpiles of landmines," he said. He did not say what quantities of the explosives remained in the military's hands.

Sri Lanka had previously refused to become a signatory to the treaty, arguing that it was forced to use landmines because its main warring partner, the Tamil Tiger separatists, used them extensively.

Two years ago, the military declared that it had cleared mines and unexploded munitions from most of the areas where civilians are being resettled in the island's former war zone.