Foreign presence in probe not ruled out

Law courtsEven as a controversy continues over Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena’s reported observations against permitting foreign judges and prosecutors in the proposed investigation of alleged human rights violations and abuses during the final stages of the civil war, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has clarified that Mr. Sirisena did not rule out international involvement.

Asked for his reaction to Mr Sirisena’s comments, the Prime Minister, in an interview to Channel 4 News [which is available on the twitter account of the channel’s anchor, Jon Snow], said “We have not ruled it out… He has not ruled it out. Our first prong is the people itself. Whatever else we do, they [the people] must also find the benefit and that’s a long process we have started.”

Elaborating further, Mr. Wickremesinghe said his government would stand by its commitment on the Geneva resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in October last. Its proposals on the mechanism for accountability and reconciliation would be ready by May, before the UNHRC would hold its session [likely in June].

On the issue of detention centres, the Prime Minister asserted that “there are no detention centres in the north or in the south.” On the number of persons kept in such centres, he replied that what was known to his government was 292 persons in detention. “That’s all… No one else.”

Asked about those who were said to have surrendered to the authorities [immediately after the civil war] and had not yet returned home, Mr. Wickremesinghe said “they are probably dead.” Pointing out that a special counsel, the Office for Missing Persons and the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission would deal with the issue, he said “we have to find what happened. At least, people want an answer.” (The Hindu)

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