Sri Lanka to set up special court to probe alleged war crimes

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Colombo (dpa) – Sri Lanka said Thursday it would have a special court under a domestic mechanism investigate alleged war crimes committed during the country’s 26-year civil war.

The mechanism to probe allegations of human rights violations will be finalised within the next four months and implemented during an 18-month period, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told a news conference in Colombo.

“We will take into consideration the recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council report on having the service of international expertise,” Samaraweera said.

A UN report released Wednesday suggested that Sri Lanka should agree to a tribunal of domestic and international judges to examine strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war, in which the UN estimates some 40,000 civilians were killed.

“Whoever is responsible for these killings will be drastically dealt with,” Samaraweera said.

“The mechanism will be established not to please the international community or because there is pressure from the international community, but due to our strong belief that there is no other path for Sri Lanka other than this,” Samaraweera said.

The UN report proposed a “hybrid mechanism” integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, citing weakneses in the local judicial system for carrying out such investigations.

Sri Lanka’s civil war ended when government troops defeated Tamil separatist rebels in 2009, but the UN report covered the period from 2002 to 2011.

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