From Shamindra Ferdinando in London
President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday (March10) assured that Sri Lanka would release its own war crimes dossier before the UN investigators presented their report to the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in September 2015.
The President was responding to Labour and Opposition Leader Ed Miliband during a hurriedly arranged meeting at London Hilton on Park Lane.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera explained the ongoing domestic investigation meant to address the contentious accountability issue. The Sri Lankan report could be made available in July, Miliband was told.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa expanded the scope and mandate of the local investigation headed by retired High Court judge Maxwell Paranagama.
The meeting took place while a protest was on near Westminster Abbey and Marlborough House demanding the immediate release of the UN report. Protesters demanded that the UK back their call because the British government, too, had voted for an external investigation.
Responding to another query, President Maithripala Sirisena explained a series of measures adopted by the new government since the Jan. 08 presidential election to reassure Tamil speaking people.
Commenting on the appointment of K. Sripavan as the new Chief Justice, the President said that such an appointment hadn’t been made for 25 years. The President explained that retired military officers who had been functioning as Governors of the Northern and Eastern Provinces had been replaced with civilians in accordance with the overall government strategy meant to reassure the Tamil community.
The President called for British support for post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation projects as well as at international forums, including the UNHRC. The President expressed hope Sri Lanka could work closely with the UK in Geneva.
The UK voted for a US-led resolution in March 2014 to conduct an external investigation into accountability issues in Sri Lanka. The UK backed Sri Lanka’s call to defer the UN report until September to give the new administration time and space to streamline the domestic inquiry.
Ed Miliband also inquired about the post-war role played by the army.
The meeting took place before the President and Foreign Minister left for a meeting with Conservative leader and Prime Minister David Cameron.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a smiling Miliband told the President and Foreign Minister not to furnish a copy of their 100-day programme to Premier Cameron. Miliband was responding after having received a copy of the programme from the Foreign Minister.