Colombo, March 16 (NIA) – Sri Lanka on Thursday said that a domestic mechanism which would probe allegations of human rights abuses and war crimes would fulfill the expectations of families seeking justice.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told reporters in capital Colombo that although there had been a delay in probing the allegations, Sri Lanka was in the process of building up a judicial system which would win the trust of all.
“If we as a country are going to move forward united, we must ensure that justice is not only talked about but delivered to all sections,” Samaraweera said.
“It may be too long for those who have suffered, those who have lost their loved ones. For them every minute may seem like an eternity. But from the point of the government I really don’t think we have taken that long. Infact the bill for the office of the missing persons is now the law of the land,” Samaraweera said.
The Minister’s statements come weeks after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein noted that Sri Lanka should adopt legislation establishing the hybrid court, which should include international judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators, to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law, allegedly committed during and after the country’s 30 year civil conflict.
Government troops were locked in a bitter war against Tamil Tiger rebels which ended in May 2009 after the armed forces militarily defeated the Tigers.
The UN alleged that atleast 40,000 minority Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of the war while an estimated 100,000 people died in years of battle.
While the UN has been calling for a war crimes probe with the participation of foreign judges and lawyers, Samaraweera on Thursday said that there were no provisions in the present constitution to bring foreign judges.
“There is nothing to worry about. There are so many frameworks available within Sri Lanka’s constitutional framework and we finally want to ensure that all the people in this country come to terms with the past,” he said.
“The request for international judges come from the very fact that our judiciary during the former Mahinda Rajapakse regime lost its credibility. That is the very reason why some members are asking for some impartiality. But there are many variations which we can guarantee that same independence and options and we will come up with it,” the Minister said.