Shamindra Ferdinando – External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday decried a statement attributed to US State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, on the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report, as the most unreasonable statement issued by the State Department.
Minister Peiris said that Ms Nuland’s statement had exposed again the double standards adopted by a section of the international community targeting Sri Lanka.
The External Affairs Minister was addressing the editors of national
newspapers and senior representatives of the electronic media at Temple Trees during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s monthly meeting with the media.
Commenting on US demand to reveal the proposed timetable or roadmap to address accountability issues, Prof. Peiris said that such a demand hadn’t been made of any other country.
The minister regretted that the US had conveniently ignored a statement made in Parliament by Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, last Friday (16) following the presentation of the LLRC report.
President Rajapaksa pointed out that Sir John Chilcott’s inquiry into the UK role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq was still continuing. According to the official website of the Iraq Inquiry, the former public servant needed time till summer next year to finalize a draft report.
Both President Rajapaksa and Prof. Peiris stressed that Sri Lanka was being unfairly treated by those wanting to haul the country up before an international war crimes tribunal.
Minister De Silva declared on Friday that it would investigate ‘specific situations’ set out in the LLRC report relating to death of civilians during the last phase of the war. “It is a matter of the greatest importance to the Government to have the truth relating to each of these matters established in a manner that puts controversy to rest for all time,” he said.
The Minister said that the proper course of action now was to set up a mechanism for gathering and assessing factual evidence relating to the episodes indicated, supported by a strong investigative arm.
“The findings arrived at in this process will form the basis of a decision whether criminal proceedings can be instituted. The material yielded by this investigation will be placed before the Attorney General for a decision in respect of institution of criminal proceedings where warranted,” he added.
Prof. Peiris criticized repeated calls to address the allegations of serious human rights violations, which occurred in the final phase of the conflict, while ignoring what was going on over the past three decades.
Speaking to The Island later, Prof. Peiris said that nothing could be as unfair as the call to address those issues, which hadn’t been covered by the LLRC. The minister alleged that this was obviously an attempt on the part of the US to keep shifting the goal posts as part of their overall strategy.