The Sri Lankan government on Thursday reiterated that a domestic probe into alleged war crimes committed in the island nation will meet international standards.
Government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne told reporters in a media briefing here that the local mechanism would be set up later this month and foreign assistance would be sought only if required.
“Of course we will require foreign technical assistance but the process will be entirely local,” Senaratne said.
However, he added that if local judges require international legal assistance, only then would they consider seeking foreign legal assistance.
“We can assure that our local judges and lawyers are capable of conducting the domestic probe. And the local mechanism will meet international standards.”
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena who completed one year in power this month has vowed to set up a domestic mechanism to probe war crimes allegedly committed during the finals stages of the country’s civil conflict.
Sri Lanka’s civil war between the government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels ended in May 2009 with the defeat of the rebels and the United Nations estimates that at least 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed during the conflict.
Sirisena in a recent media interview said that the country did not need to “import” specialists and foreign judges and prosecutors should not be involved in the domestic probe.
“I will never agree to international involvement in this matter,” the President said. “We have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues.”
However days later, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the government had not ruled out international involvement in the probe into alleged war crimes.
Wickremesinghe also said that his government is putting together the mechanism for accountability and reconciliation by May or so.
International Assistance Will be Considered – PM
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremessinghe today in Parliament slammed some media institutions on the manner they had reported the issue over the involvement of foreign judges in the accountability process on the war.
He insisted that the government will not agree to an international war crimes tribunal on the Sri Lanka issue.
“We have not signed the Rome statute,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that he met President Maithripala Sirisena and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday and discussed the issue.
He said at the meeting it was agreed that the government position on the investigation on the war is that it will be a domestic process which will be open to international assistance.
The Prime Minister said that even the former Government had obtained international assistance when investigating reports on those missing.
Earlier the opposition said the government had different views on the matter with the President saying no to foreign judges and the Prime Minister saying international involvement has not been ruled out.