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Sri Lanka to ‘re-assert lost sovereignty’ over war crimes investigations

The Sri Lankan government said it had “pledged to re-assert lost sovereignty by taking ownership of processes that were in the international domain” with regards to reports that over 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by a Sri Lankan military offensive in 2009.

Responding to a query from a journalist from The Island, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mahishini Colonne said, “Since Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the Rome Statute regarding international jurisdiction with regard to war crimes, ensuring justice with regard to such matters will be the business of national independent judicial mechanisms”.

The statement continued to say,

“What this means is that the new Government of Sri Lanka pledged to re-assert lost sovereignty by taking ownership of processes that were in the international domain, by bringing them to the local domain, and that the Government of Sri Lanka, as a sovereign state that is responsible for all its citizens, and responsible to uphold the rule of law, democracy, and justice, would take responsibility for credible investigations, locally.

The journalist had asked whether the government would call on the UK and the UN Human Rights Council to review reports of the civilian casualty figure, after British politician Lord Naseby raised the issue earlier this month.

“Engaging in arguments and debates  in the international domain over the number of civilians who may have died at a particular time in the country will not help resolve any issues, in a meaningful manner, locally, except a feel good factor for a few individuals who may think that they have won a debate or scored points over someone or the other,” continued the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry statement.

Lord Naseby – who has in the past been labelled an “apologist” for the Rajapaksa regime – called for charges of war crimes to be dropped.

“With regard to Lord Naseby's statement, the Government fully recognizes its contribution to the Transitional Justice/ Reconciliation process in Sri Lanka,” added the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry.

See the full text of the statement here.