UK backs domestic mechanism in Sri Lanka

Rejecting the call by Tamils and rights watchdogs around the world for an international judicial process to address war crimes in Sri Lanka, British Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told parliament on Tuesday (15) that the United Kingdom supports a 'credible domestic mechanism' conducted by the Sri Lankan government.

Joining the debate about Tamil rights in Sri Lanka, a day before the United Nations Human Rights Chief releasing the Investigation report on Sri Lanka's war crimes allegations, Minister of State Hugo Swire said, "I appreciate why many in the Tamil community have called for a purely international accountability mechanism, but we have been clear for a long time that a credible domestic mechanism that meets international standards is the best way to build a stronger, more inclusive and prosperous society. In practice, that means: an appropriate legislative and judicial framework for prosecutions to take place; an international element that enables it to meet international standards; guarantees of effective protection of witnesses; and an agreed follow-up mechanism to monitor progress. That is the only way in which any process will gain credibility, critically with all Sri Lankan people and with the international community."

Samaraweera & Sumanthiran

State Minister Swire added that he discussed Sri Lanka with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and with Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran, in Geneva.

"I was pleased that Foreign Minister Mangala’s address to the Human Rights Council included such plans. We now need to work with the Sri Lankan Government and our partners in the Human Rights Council to understand Sri Lanka’s plans in more detail and to agree a consensual resolution that sets out a clear framework for delivery"' he said.

Expressing the Conservative government's support to the Maithripala Sirisena - Ranil Wickramasinghe government Minister Swire said ' I genuinely believe that they will stamp out any human rights abuses'.

"We need to understand that there has been a sea change in Sri Lanka. We need to get behind the new administration," he emphasised.

Fairness and impartiality

Ruling party parliamentarian James Berry starting the debate heavily doubted the fairness or the impartiality of a domestic tribunal appointed by the Sri Lankan government led by President Maithripala Sirisena 'the same man who was the acting Defence Minister in the final days of the civil war, when most civilian casualties occurred'.

"And many people in top-ranking Government, military and other state positions remain the same. General Fonseka, the Commander of Armed Forces at the end of the civil war, was recently promoted to the rank of field marshal. Major General Jagath Dias, commander of the 57th division, whose units stand accused of committing some of the worst human rights abuses at the end of the civil war, was promoted to Army Chief of Staff just this May," said James Berry.




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