Sri Lanka could take part in special court

Sri Lankan foreign minister says he is eager to take part in court investigating allegations of war crimes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, during the Sri Lanka-India Joint Commission meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka February 5, 2016.

Sri Lanka’s foreign minister said on Thursday that he is open to international participation in examining war crimes during the 26-year Tamil insurgency

"I think it is only fair that the victims of the war would want some form of guarantee that the new courts will deliver justice and accountability in a fair manner, and for that we are willing to consider the participation of international actors," Mangala Samaraweera, the minister, said at a Washington think tank.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena had previously said that foreign participation was not needed for an impartial inquiry.

The UN said earlier this month that it would not compel Sri Lanka to participate in a special court but the procedure should be unbiased and inependent.

According to the UN, the Sri Lankan Army and Tamil Tiger militants both committed war crimes during the war.

A UN resolution has called for all alleged war crimes to be investigated and tried in special courts by international judges.

"They could be judges, they could be forensic experts, investigators, prosecutors, all these options are being looked at," Samaraweera said.

Many citizens in Sri Lanka are against international participation in the tribunal and supporters of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa think that the UN intends to unfairly criticise the military.

On Thursday Samaraweera met with John Kerry and is due to take part in a strategic conversation between the two countries later this week.

The Sri Lankan civil conflict began in 1983 with the insurgency of the Tamil Tigers against government forces in the pursuit of creating an independent Tamil state in the north of the Island. The 27-year-old conflict came to and in 2009 with the victory of the Sri Lankan military.