War crimes: TNA’s claim at Congressional hearing irrelevant – minister

article_imageBy Shamindra Ferdinando

Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe yesterday dismissed as irrelevant a statement made by Jaffna District MP M. A. Sumanthiran at a recent Congressional hearing on behalf of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in respect of foreign judges in a judicial mechanism to inquire into war crimes.

Minister Samarasinghe was responding to a query raised by The Island at a special media conference held by the President’s Office at the Information Department to explain President Maithripala Sirisena’s stand on Western intervention in Arab countries and proposed judicial mechanism to probe accountability issues here.

The Island pointed out that TNA spokesperson had declared that there was a tripartite understanding involving the government of Sri Lanka, the US and the TNA to adopt Geneva Resolution 30/1 to pave the way for foreign judges. Asked for comment, Minister Samarasinghe

said that TNA leader R. Sampanthan had said that there was no requirement for foreign judges. Minister Samarasinghe stressed that MP Sumanthiran statement shouldn’t be taken seriously against the backdrop of both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe ruling out the participation of foreign judges in the local mechanism to be set up.

Minister Samarasinghe said President Maithripala Sirisena had declared that foreign judges wouldn’t be acceptable under any circumstances and that the Constitution barred such a move.

Attorney-at-law Sumanthiran, however, told Congressional hearing that Sri Lanka’s Constitution wouldn’t bar inclusion of foreign judges in a local mechanism.

Minister Samarasinghe said that Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera hadn’t referred to foreign judges in proposed judicial mechanism when he recently addressed the media.