COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s main minority Tamil party demanded Friday that foreign judges be included in a special court to investigate war crimes, a day after the UN again granted Colombo more time for a much-delayed probe.
Government troops have been accused of killing at least 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians in the final months of the island nation’s 37-year civil war in 2009. No one has been prosecuted for war crimes in the decade since.
But on Wednesday in Geneva, Sri Lankan foreign minister Tilak Marapana said the country’s constitution did not allow foreign judges.
This prompted uproar from Tamil National Alliance (TNA), with lawmaker Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran threatening on Friday to report Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He said Tamils, who were the most affected by the separatist war that claimed over 100,000 lives, will not accept an accountability mechanism that did not involve outsiders.
“The state of Sri Lanka cannot be an independent arbiter,” he said.
Colombo’s no-holds-barred military campaign wiped out the leadership of Tamil Tiger rebels and ended the war in May 2009.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned this week that Sri Lanka risked slipping back into conflict unless it addressed the “worst crimes” of the war.
She noted that Colombo was yet to set up the special judicial mechanism as promised four years ago.