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‘Erosion of confidence’ in Sri Lankan courts, requires international involvement – US official

US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski reiterated the importance of international involvement in an accountability mechanism to prosecute for violations of international humanitarian law, in a press roundtable in Colombo on Thursday.

“An erosion in the confidence" of Sri Lanka's courts led to the call for foreign judges to become involved said Mr Malinowski. “Sri Lanka itself has contributed judicial expertise to other countries and it has perhaps benefited from that.”

"These are complicated issues and there needs to be a process of consultation with all in order to ensure these things are done in a way that earns confidence of the people," he added, speaking alongside US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal.

After his meeting, he tweeted,

“In Colombo, stressed US support for #SriLanka democratization, reconciliation and fully seeing through Geneva commitments.”


Though Mr Malinowski noted that "under the resolution, the government of Sri Lanka will determine the structure and the composition of the court," he went on to state that “the Government of Sri Lanka also made a commitment to exercise that sovereignty within certain parameters in ways that could include international participation at various levels”.

Assistant Secretary Malinowski also recalled his meetings with senior Sri Lankan military officials, where he said he “had very candid conversations about the steps that would be required to restore a full military to military relationship with the US, including the need for the armed forces to support the accountability process – recognising that this would be a difficult process for some in the military”.

Speaking to those sceptical of Sri Lanka fulfilling its commitments he said, “We want those people to know that we know that history too, and we are not taking anything for granted”.

Assistant Secretary Biswal told reporters that “in my conversations with people in Sri Lanka, I see impatience and frustration, but I don’t see despair”.

“There is hope, but also anxiety that this hope will not be realised,” she added.

Speaking on international pressure on Sri Lanka, Ms Biswal said, “We were put in a position where the only real avenue we had was to apply pressure through international forums such as the UN Human Rights Council”.

However, she insisted that the United States was still focussed on accountability.

“There are different ways to encourage progress,” Ms Biswal said.

See more from the DailyFT here.

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