The Foreign Ministry said yesterday that war crimes allegations would be dealt through national independent judicial mechanisms. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mahishini Colonne said so when The Island asked her whether the government would request UK and Geneva to review the allegation that 40,000 civilians had been killed during the Vanni campaign, in the light of Lord Naseby statement int he House of Lords disputing the figure on oct. 12.
The following is the full text of SM spokesperson’s statement:
“As you would recall, the 100 Day Programme ‘United for a Change. Dawn of Maithri Rule. A New Country in 100 Days’, in point 93, stated the following: “Since Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the Rome Statute regarding international jurisdiction with regard to war crimes, ensuring justice with regard to such matters will be the business of national independent judicial mechanisms.
“What this means is that the new Government of Sri Lanka pledged to re-assert lost sovereignty by taking ownership of processes that were in the international domain, by bringing them to the local domain, and that the Government of Sri Lanka, as a sovereign state that is responsible for all its citizens, and responsible to uphold the rule of law, democracy, and justice, would take responsibility for credible investigations, locally (by this time, as you would recall, there was already an international investigation on Sri Lanka by the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), set up by Resolution 25/1 of March 2014).
“As promised to the people by the 100 Day Programme (point 93), the National Unity Government proceeded to present its own set of national proposals for a transitional justice process, involving truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence. For the first time, people were invited to present their views through a consultation process on reconciliation mechanisms that was set up locally, so that anyone could present their own ideas for reconciliation mechanisms to the Government.
“The Government of Sri Lanka remains committed to national processes aimed at realising the vision of a reconciled, stable, peaceful and prosperous nation. Engaging in arguments and debates in the international domain over the number of civilians who may have died at a particular time in the country will not help resolve any issues, in a meaningful manner, locally, except a feel good factor for a few individuals who may think that they have won a debate or scored points over someone or the other.
“This country has seen violence many times – for example in 1971, and also during the period between 1987 and 1989 when civilians died and went missing in the south. Once again, after the end of the conflict in May 2009, certain incidents took place in the south, such as the Welikada Prison incident, shooting at protesters in Rathupaswala and in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone. And today, there are attempts once again to instigate violence in the south by branding people as traitors and trying to create divisions in society. These indicate, whatever community one belongs to, one cannot be guaranteed of safety. All communities have been affected by violence at some point or the other in this country.
“Therefore, systems that restore trust in investigations and judicial processes, and systems that strengthen individual rights will benefit all communities and also enhance social trust over the long-term. This is what the Government seeks to carry out, for the benefit of all citizens, present and future, in the interest of long-term stability and prosperity of the nation.”