COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will not allow foreigners to dabble in the domestic judicial mechanism to be set up to try cases of war crimes, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, told the media here on Thursday.
“We dont want outsiders to dabble in such institutions. It should be basically done by us,” he said.
He was responding to a question whether the Lankan government will set up a “hybrid” special court that will employ foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators as recommended by the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights which was presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at Geneva on Wednesday.
Samaraweera however said that Lanka will take technical advice and assistance from the international community as and when local experts call for it. For example, Lanka does not have enough forensic expertise, and therefore it may call for outside expertise, he explained.
Asked again if foreign judges and prosecutors will be employed, Samaraweera said that this would be done after consultations which the government intends to have with relevant stakeholders from mid October to end of January 2016.
According to him the gap between the Lankan government and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the hybrid special court is ‘small’, and that an agreement can be reached through consultations.
The Minister, who led the Lankan delegation at the UNHRC, said that the government wants to put all the mechanisms in place within 18 months.
However, the comprehensive political settlement through the enactment of a new constitution is a separate thing to be pursued independently through wide consultations, he said. The question of turning the present parliament into a Constituent Assembly will be decided by the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister, who is also Minister of Constitutional Affairs.
Samaraweera said that one of the main obstacles to a political settlement has been a continual “trust deficit” between the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. “The different domestic mechanisms that we will be setting up should help narrow the deficit,” he added.
On the on-going investigations about the killing or disappearance of high profile persons like journalists Prageeth Eknaligoda and Lasantha Wickramatunge, and Tamil National Alliance leader N.Raviraj, the Minister said that the army, as an institution, had no role to play in it, though individuals in it could have issued the orders.
“We would like to know who issued the orders,” Samaraweera said and added that all three cases are nearing completion.