Spadework underway for war crimes probe – FM

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday revealed that a consultation process aimed at designing a domestic accountability probe mechanism would begin next week.

 Minister Samaraweera said the process was meant to address what he called ‘the past.’

 The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council on Sept 30, 2015 endorsed war crimes court to inquire into alleged atrocities committed during the conflict.

 Minister Samaraweera made the announcement while addressing a gathering at a function to welcome visiting Norwegian FM Borge Brende, yesterday.

 The previous government eradicated terrorism after the LTTE quit the Norway arranged negotiating process in April 2003. Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.

 An official visit by a Norwegian Foreign Minister takes place after 10 years.

 Minister Samaraweera said: "The domestic mechanisms through which we are trying to address this past are in the process of being developed and the consultation process to design these mechanisms will begin next week."Matara District MP Samaraweera held the foreign ministry portfolio in the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s administration at the onset of eelam war IV in Aug. 2006

 Minister Samaraweera said the Norwegian FM’s visit was taking place at a time when Sri Lanka was trying to come to terms with its past.

 Commenting on the on-going efforts to introduce a new Constitution, Minister Samaraweera said a special session of Parliament tomorrow would pave the way for the formation of a Constitutional Council, comprising the whole of Parliament, which would begin the serious business of consulting the people and drafting a new constitution for Sri Lanka that reflected the aspirations of all Sri Lankans.

 Minister Samaraweera said: "Minister Brende’s visit takes place at a very propitious moment, as Sri Lankans are preparing to celebrate the first anniversary of the Sirisena-Wickremasinghe administration and the country’s new political trajectory. As Sri Lanka embarks on this new path, we are encouraged that we have been able to gain the support and confidence of the international community after years of censure and isolation.

 Economic and social developments are key priorities of this government. Minister Brende and I discussed expanding Norwegian development assistance, particularly technical assistance for the fisheries sector and solar power generation. In addition, we explored possibilities of expanding Norwegian investment in Sri Lanka both through portfolio and foreign direct investment.

I am confident that regular high level interactions at all levels will pave the way for a stronger relationship between Norway and Sri Lanka, which will in turn benefit our countries and our peoples."

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