By Idrees Ali
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s foreign minister said on Thursday he is willing to consider international participation in investigating possible 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 has previously said that foreign participation was not needed for an impartial inquiry.
The foreign minister’s comments come after the United Nations said earlier this month that it would not force Sri Lanka to accept a role for international judges, but any process must be impartial and independent.
The United Nations says the Sri Lankan military and Tamil Tiger rebels were both likely to have committed war crimes during the war, which ended with a military victory in 2009.
A U.N. resolution calls 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 Sri Lankans oppose foreign involvement, and supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa believe the U.N. resolution aims to punish the military unfairly.
Samaraweera said the “contours and the architecture” of the court would be worked on in the next five or six months, after consulting with parties including the Tamil National Alliance.
He said that while the judiciary was on the right track, it had been politicized over the years.
Samaraweera met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday and is expected to take part in a strategic dialogue between the two countries later this week.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Leslie Adler)