( Missing persons relatives have been calling for justice for years)
It was up to Parliament to decide whether to allow foreign judges to be involved in the war crimes investigation, Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said yesterday.
Responding to a question raised by UPFA Galle District MP Udaya Gammanpila in Parliament the Deputy Minister said that various countries and organisations had made requests to the government to ensure the participation of foreign judges in the war crimes probe. “It is our sovereign right to set up the mechanism the way we want. This Parliament will make a final decision,” he said.
Dr. de Silva said the final contours of the domestic judicial mechanism would be decided after the completion of the consultation process. He rejected the claim that a team of delegates including a TNA MP who met the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister had made a request to send Australian Judges to serve in the special court to be established in Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes.
Responding to another question whether Rev. S.J. Emanuel, Chairman of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) had been invited by the President to visit Sri Lanka, the Deputy Minister said the President and the government had publicly invited all Sri Lankans living abroad to take part in the development process of the country.
The deputy minister said the government lifted the ban on the GTF after a review process of a competent authority.
“According to criteria accepted by all the stakeholders it was decided to delist the GTF along with seven other organisations,” he said.
The deputy minister said the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission had recommended that the government be ‘proactive in encouraging and supporting the work of the expatriates who do not advocate the discarded LTTE ideology of violence and separation and who espouse the democratic principles of ethnic harmony and consensual politics”.
“Following the election of the new Government in January 2015, the GTF pledged its support for the government of Sri Lanka in finding solutions for issues relating to Sri Lankan Tamils and praised steps taken to create an environment where Tamils could live in peace and harmony,” Dr. de Silva said.
Asked whether Rev Emmanuel had declared that he had given up the Eelam goal, the Minister said after the election of the new government in January 2015, the GTF had pledged its support for the government to find solutions to issues relating to Sri Lankan Tmils and praised steps taken to create an environment where Tamils could live in peace and harmony.
Asked whether the government had admitted that supporting and encouraging directly or indirectly the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka was a punishable offence, the minister responded in the affirmative and said that according to the definition provided in Article 157 (1) of the Constitution it was an offence.
Asked whether the government admitted that it was also an offence to encourage a person committing such a misdeed, the minister responding in the affirmative said that according to the definition provided in article 157 (3) of the Constitution it was an offence.
MP Gammanpila complained that his questions were not properly answered by the reply given by the Deputy Minister, and accused the government of dodging questions adding that there was no point in raising supplementary questions if the government continued to dodge them.
By Saman Indrajith