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International judges not allowed to operate in Sri Lanka declares foreign minister, denies pressure to implement UN resolution

Updated 2300 GMT

Sri Lanka’s constitution does not allow foreign judges to operate in the country and they will not be allowed to hear cases of war crimes, declared the government’s newly appointed foreign minister Tilak Marapana, as he denied his government was under pressure to implement a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on accountability for violations of international law.

"Sri Lanka's Constitution does not allow foreign judges to operate in the country and hear cases," he told reporters in Colombo today.

"We have told the international community that our constitution does not permit that and they have accepted it," Mr Marapana claimed. "That judicial mechanism is left for us to formulate and for us to tell them. And it is a long way off."

In remarks to the press in Sinhala and English, Mr Marapana went on to deny his government was facing any pressure from the international community to implement a United Nations resolution on the issue. The resolution, which Sri Lanka co-sponsored, mandated a hybrid court which including foreign judges and prosecutors to hear cases of human rights violations. However Mr Marapana, who was officially appointed as foreign minister this week, dismissed the move. He also refused to state when the resolution, if ever, would be fully implemented.

"No, we are not being pushed to implement it in 5 or 10 years," he said. "We are not being pushed in that way at all."

"Now the international community, they are convinced that we are committed to do justice and that is why they allowed us ourselves to formulate our own methods or formulate our own programs and to implement what is the core issues in that resolution."

"We have bene given ample time and we can ask for further time also," he added.

He went on to state that "all stakeholders.. are fully satisfied that we have complied with our obligations that are necessary to fulfill those conditions that are there in that resolution". 

Senior Sri Lankan government officials, including the president, have repeatedly rebuffed moves for foreign judges to hear cases of international humanitarian law violations that took place during the final phase of the armed conflict in which tens of thousands of Tamil civilians were slaughtered.

See the full video of his remarks here.