Never contemplated appointing foreign judges: Mahinda

Thursday, 22 October 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

mahinda_rajapaksaFormer President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday clarifying the intention of his government in appointing foreign experts said, at no time did his government contemplate the appointment of foreign experts as judges exercising judicial power with respect to the Sri Lankan armed forces and Sri Lankan citizens.

He said the decision was taken because the appointment of foreign judges was “politically unacceptable to our people and also because it involved conflict with basic provisions of the constitution of Sri Lanka,” according to a press release issued by the office of the former President.

Rajapaksa clarified this during his meeting with Motoo Noguchi of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office of Japan at his residence this morning.

During the meeting, Noguchi expressed appreciation of the invitation which had been extended to him by the government of President Rajapaksa to serve in an advisory capacity to assist the Commission on Missing Persons headed by Maxwell Paranagama.

Explaining the role of foreign experts in the Paranagama Commission, the former President specifically clarified that the intention of his government, in response to a written request by Chairman Paranagama was to secure for the benefit of the Sri Lankan commission the expertise of several international experts including Noguchi.

He emphasised that the role of these experts was to serve as resource persons in dealing with complex issues of international humanitarian law and international human rights law which arose in the course of the work of the commission.

Noguchi has agreed that the best course of action was to have judicial mechanisms manned by Sri Lanka’s own nationals. Noguchi, who served as an International Judge of the Supreme Court Chamber in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia during 2006-2012, described his experience in the war crimes tribunal of Cambodia and the manner in which it was functioning.

The former President has however, pointed out that there is a fundamental difference between the Sri Lankan and Cambodian contexts referring to basic element of the salient features of the Sri Lankan situation was “the eradication of terrorism and the availability of the opportunity today for all citizens of Sri Lanka irrespective ethnic identity, to live in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.”

He described in some detail the challenges which confronted his government and the strategies which he put in place to overcome them.

Former president Rajapaksa and Noguchi have discussed a range of issues connected with current initiatives regarding reconciliation and the way forward. The Former Minister of External Affairs Professor G.L Peiris was also present at the meeting.