Japanese Envoy says No to foreign judges

Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Kenichi Suganuma said yesterday that his government was not of the opinion that foreign jurists should be brought to Sri Lanka to evaluate claims of human rights violations.Responding to a reporter’s question about the matter, Ambassador Suganuma said the Sri Lankan government has the capability to investigate alleged violations and bring those involved to justice.

UNHRC Resolution 34/1, to which Sri Lanka was a signatory in 2017, provides for foreign participation in the country’s post-war accountability and reconciliation process.The involvement of foreign jurist to investigate whether human rights violations took place in the last phase of the country’s twenty-six- year civil war has been requested by many in the international community, as well as by the domestic Consultation Task Force (CTF) on Reconciliation Mechanisms appointed by the Prime Minister.

Ambassador Suganuma also said that he believed the Sri Lankan government has the resources required to handle incidents such as the recent religiously-motivated violence in the Kandy District.He added that the Japanese government would offer technical assistant or legal advice only when asked.

He made these remarks at the conclusion of a grant-contract signing ceremony at the Japanese Embassy in Colombo. The contracts, marking the Japanese government’s decision to provide grants for an agricultural project in Ampara and a fishery in Mannar, were signed by the ambassador and representatives of the affiliated Sri Lanka NGOs.

Speaking on the projects, Ambassador Suganuma said, “We are advocating inclusive development for the country.”The first project, for the rehabilitation of a tank in the conflict-affected Ampara District, is to be implemented by the Child Rehabilitation Center with a grant of USD $134,448 (approximately Rs. 20.2 million).

Through the renovation of the Koongaswewa Tank in the district, the project aims to improve the livelihood of 3,120 community members in 780 families, including IDPs (internally displaced persons) and low-income farmers. The second project, for the improvement of sundried fish production by low income women in Mannar, is to be implemented by the Soba Kantha Environment Management and Community Development Foundation with a grant of USD $78,364 (approximately Rs. 11.8 million).

This project will provide dried fish production facilities to the women’s group, benefitting around 60 women and their families, as well as support fish waste disposal methods, thereby improving the hygiene, sanitation, and environment around the facilities.