Reuters: Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said on Thursday in Washington he is willing to consider international participation in investigating possible war crimes during the 26-year Tamil insurgency.
“I think it is only fair that the victims of the war would want some form of guarantee that the new courts will deliver justice and accountability in a fair manner, and for that we are willing to consider the participation of international actors,” Mangala Samaraweera, the Minister, said at a Washington think tank.
President Maithripala Sirisena has previously said that foreign participation was not needed for an impartial inquiry.
The Foreign Minister’s comments come after the United Nations said earlier this month that it would not force Sri Lanka to accept a role for international judges, but any process must be impartial and independent.
The United Nations says the Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tiger rebels were both likely to have committed war crimes during the war, which ended with a military victory in 2009.
A UN resolution calls for all alleged war crimes to be investigated and tried in special courts by international judges.
“They could be judges, they could be forensic experts, investigators, prosecutors, all these options are being looked at,” Samaraweera said.
Many Sri Lankans oppose foreign involvement, and supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa believe the UN resolution aims to punish the military unfairly.
Samaraweera said the “contours and the architecture” of the court would be worked on in the next five or six months, after consulting with parties including the Tamil National Alliance.
He said that while the judiciary was on the right track, it had been politicised over the years.
Samaraweera met with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday and is expected to take part in a strategic dialogue between the two countries later this week.
US looks forward to defining roadmap for continued progress in SL
US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera prior to a meeting at the State Department in Washington, DC, 25 – Saul Loeb/AFP
Washington, DC: The United States welcomed Sri Lanka’s efforts to make peace in the country as well as to address regional issues and said it looks forward to defining the roadmap ahead for continued progress.
Welcoming Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera Thursday in Washington, the US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated the Sri Lankan Government for “their very impressive continuing steps towards reconciliation”.
“Their efforts to try to address the regional issues, and most importantly, to make peace in their own country are very, very significant. And we really welcome you here,” Kerry said adding that the US is engaged in ongoing dialogue with
“This is the eve of a Strategic Dialogue with Sri Lanka, which will be led by our Under Secretary Tom Shannon, and we very much look forward to defining the roadmap ahead for continued progress. So welcome, my friend.”
Speaking at the media briefing, Foreign Minister Samaraweera said a very special friendship between the United States of America and Sri Lanka has been formed and he is looking forward to further strengthen and broaden the relationship between the two countries.
Secretary Kerry stated: “I’m very happy to welcome my friend Mangala Samaraweera here, the foreign minister of Sri Lanka. I had wonderful occasion to visit with him in Sri Lanka, and I want to congratulate the Government of Sri Lanka for their very impressive continuing steps towards reconciliation. Their efforts to try to address the regional issues, and most importantly, to make peace in their own country are very, very significant. And we really welcome you here.We’ve had an ongoing dialogue. This is the eve of a Strategic Dialogue with Sri Lanka, which will be led by our Under Secretary Tom Shannon, and we very much look forward to defining the roadmap ahead for continued progress. So welcome, my friend.”
Foreign Minister Samaraweera responded: “Thank you. I am also extremely happy to be back here at the State Department and also to meet Secretary of State John Kerry exactly one year after - one year and one week, in fact, of visiting you here since the new administration took over last year. In fact, during the last 12 months you were able to come to Sri Lanka, the first visit by a Secretary of State of the United States of America in 43 years.
“We also had a cabinet-level visit of Samantha Power last May, and of course, many other visits by high-level officials of the State Department. And this has elevated what has always been a very cordial relationship to what I would call a very special friendship between the United States of America and Sri Lanka. And that is why I’m looking forward for the inaugural meeting of the US-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue, which I’m sure will go – which will further strengthen and broaden the relationship between our two countries.”