Throwing a party to the members of Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Sri Lanka on Tuesday night Samaraweera told them that while his government will not go back on its pledge, the government required more time specially in the setting up of the necessary judiciary mechanisms to probe alleged war crimes committed during the final stages of the war between the military and the LTTE.
The foreign minister said that he will seek for more time from the UNHRC when he attends the sessions this month. However, he was unable to say how much longer the government will require to set up the necessary judiciary mechanism to probe the war crimes, which according to UN estimates killed at least 40,000 civilians during the final stages of the war that ended in 2009.
Samaraweera’s call for more time however comes just days after former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga ruled out the involvement of courts to probe war crimes. Kumaratunga, who is also the head of the Office for the National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) said that what is urgent now is to bring in a new Constitution and to establish the Office of the Missing Persons, and therefore due to these initiatives there won’t be a necessity to have courts to probe war crimes.
The involvement of foreign judges in the war crimes probe has been emphasized by the United Nations to ensure there is independence in the process. However, while Samaraweera has said in the past that international participation is necessary in bringing justice to the victims of war crimes, President Maithripala Sirisena has been adamant to not involve foreign judges in such a process.
In November, Sirisena sought US President Donald Trump’s assistance to pressure the United Nations Human Rights Council to drop war crimes charges against the Sri Lanka military.