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Sumanthiran warns of taking Sri Lanka to International Criminal Court

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliament M A Sumanthiran warned that unless Sri Lanka agrees to include international judges in a accountability mechanism, his party would "take steps to move Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court".

Speaking to Sri Lanka’s parliament earlier today, Sumanthiran said "the state of Sri Lanka cannot be an independent arbiter".

"If the government of Sri Lanka does not adhere to this commitment of including independent foreign judges in the judicial mechanism, then we the Tamil people will be left with no alternative but to move towards and entirely international judicial mechanism," he said.

"And that is possible. Our people have been asking for this, asking that Sri Lanka be referred to the International Criminal Court."

"If the government of Sri Lanka doesn’t do it, then I think it is important that I today announce to the government and to the country that we will take steps to move Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court or some other entirely international judicial mechanism."

See the full video of his address below or here.

He also argued against the foreign minister’s assertion in Geneva that the inclusion of foreign judges in any type of accountability mechanism was not allowed in Sri Lanka’s constitution. Sumanthiran told parliament that in 2015, then Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa agreed it was possible for foreign judges to partake in such a mechanism as his government agreed to a resolution at the UN, mandating a hybrid court.

"There is authoritative text to which Sri Lanka has signed to three times over," he said, referring to the three UN resolutions that Sri Lanka has now co-sponsored. "Anybody who knows to read English can understand this, there can be no other interpretation to this."

See more from AFP here.

Also see more from the TNA twitter account here.

The call for referring Sri Lanka to the ICC has been raised by protestors across the North-East, including by families of the disappeared, and in the Tamil diaspora, with over 18,000 people signing a British parliamentary petition earlier this year.

Despite Sri Lanka agreeing to a resolution that mandated foreign judges in 2015, Sri Lanka’s foreign minister told the UN Human Rights Council this week that his government would not agreed to such a move. The UN passed a resolution yesterday that granted Sri Lanka two more years to put in place such a mechanism.