11/14/2013 02:21 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Sri Lankan leader defends rights record at Commonwealth amid calls for war crimes probe

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - The president of Sri Lanka has hit out at critics who question his nation's human rights record, saying its institutions were dealing with complaints of abuses committed during or after its bloody 27-year civil war.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa says Sri Lanka "has nothing to hide" despite refusing demands by world governments and the United Nations for an independent investigation into alleged atrocities committed by both rebels and soldiers.

He told reporters covering a Commonwealth summit, "if anyone who wants to complain about human rights violations in Sri Lanka, whether its torture, whether it is rape, we have a system."

The Commonwealth has faced harsh criticism for its decision to hold this year's summit in Sri Lanka. The leaders of Canada, India and Mauritius have opted out of the meeting.