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Sri Lanka’s transitional justice system not tilted in favour of any one group: Foreign Minister

Sri Lanka’s transitional justice system will not benefit any one particular group and certainly not target the armed forces, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said on Wednesday.

Published: 15th March 2017 10:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2017 01:05 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s transitional justice system, which goes into the question of war crimes, will not benefit any one particular group and will certainly not single out and target the armed forces, Foreign
Minister Mangala Samaraweera said in a statement here on Wednesday.

“The transitional justice mechanisms to be implemented will not benefit one group or community above others, and will certainly not single out and target the armed forces,” he said, rejecting the thesis
propounded by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that the government and the international community are in cahoots to persecute the Sri Lankan armed forces which liberated the country from the clutches of the LTTE.

“This (charge) is opportunistic, and especially ironic, coming from the person who imprisoned the commander who led the armed forces to victory,” the Foreign Minister said, recalling the arrest and subsequent jailing of then Army chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka by Rajapaksa on some corruption
charges and a trumped up allegation that he tried to stage a coup.

About Rajapaksa’s criticism that the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) is meant to fix the troops, Samaraweeera said that the families of more than 5000 missing military personnel and the families of missing policemen will also benefit from the OMP.

The Minister said that Rajapaksa has no right to complain about the possibility of foreign involvement in the judicial mechanism when he himself had used them.

“It was under his leadership that multiple transitional justice processes were initiated, and international prosecutors were engaged. The International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP)
established by him engaged foreigners invited by him, and also those nominated by Australia, Canada, the European Commission, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, the USA, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and a Cypriot nominated by the Government of Sri Lanka. International prosecutors were also engaged in connection with the Paranagama Commission [on missing persons],” Samaraweera said.

On Rajapaksa’s view that the government has given in on the demand for devolution of power to the Tamil minority, the Minister said: “Implementation of the thirteenth amendment to the constitution
(devolving power to the provinces) was for the first time made into an international pledge under his leadership through the much touted victory resolution S-11/1 sponsored by Sri Lanka and adopted on 27th May 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council.”

“The resolution welcomed the reassurance given by the President of Sri Lanka that he does not regard a military solution as a final solution, as well as his commitment to a political solution with
implementation of the thirteenth amendment to bring about lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.”

On Rajapaksa’s opposition to the move to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act by a more humane one as per international standards, Samawraweera asked whether Rajapaksa thinks that Sri Lankans are not entitled to decent treatment while in custody.

On the report of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation, Samaraweera said that no decision has been taken and that due constitutional process will be underwent. The report had given the
views of every section of society, he pointed out.

“The National Unity Government makes no apologies for choosing the path of transparency, truth, justice, and reconciliation, upholding the dignity of all citizens. The future of our great nation will not
have walls of fear and doubt that separate communities. Rather, it will be a bright, open and inclusive path that invites all to walk together side-by-side as equal citizens,” Samaraweera said.

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