Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena claimed his government was no longer under pressure to investigate allegations of war crimes, in an interview with the Sunday Times this week, as he once again rejected the notion of international participation in an accountability mechanism.
The Sri Lankan president reiterated his government’s rejection of international involvement even though the move was part of a UN resolution that Sri Lanka had co-sponsored last year.
“Very clearly we do not need foreign judges,” stated Mr Sirisena. “We can resolve any problem within the country without foreign intervention. If necessary we can obtain foreign technical support. That again will be without any commitment or conditions attached.”
Mr Sirisena, who was speaking ahead of the opening of the UN Human Rights Council, told the paper that he had moved the government past “many challenges” it had faced when he initially took office last year.
“There were fears that military leaders and politicians who directed the war against the LTTE would be hauled up for war crimes,” he said. “There was talk about some offering to face the ‘electric chair’ than allow this. There was a threat of economic sanctions being imposed against us.” In particular the Sri Lankan president highlighted the “strong campaign over allegations of war crimes” that his government had faced.
However, Mr Sirisena claimed “nations which had distanced themselves and the UN are now friendly with us”.
“The loud cries of war crimes allegations have receded,” he said.
“The loud cries for setting up War Crimes Tribunal to probe the allegation have ceased too. The talk of facing an ‘electric chair’ has ended. The ban on fish exports to EU countries has been lifted. All countries have turned out to be friendly.”
His comments come as UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, recalled the joint resolution passed on Sri Lanka, and affirmed he would be presenting an oral update later in the session.