COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka will begin talks next month on creating a special court to examine alleged atrocities during the country's civil war, in which tens of thousands of people died, an official said Thursday.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the creation of institutions including a truth and reconciliation commission would be completed in 18 months.
Samaraweera made the announcement a day after United Nations human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein recommended a special hybrid court including foreign judges and investigators to examine the allegations, which he described as horrific. He said Sri Lanka's own courts are not yet ready to carry out a fair judicial process.
Samaraweera said the new court would be domestic but the government is willing to accept international assistance.
"We have to ensure that we initiate criminal investigations wherever there is sufficient evidence to do so. The burden of carrying out criminal investigations is on us and that is what we wanted. We don't want any outside bodies dabbling in such investigations which should be basically done by us," he said.
Samaraweera said the government would discuss the creation of the court with political parties and civic groups.
"We have slight differences in opinions about how it should be done but I think after the consultations with the people we can find a point of convergence," he said.
Sri Lanka's civil war ended in 2009 with the government's defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels who had sought to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils.
A U.N. report on Thursday said the patterns of violations strongly indicated war crimes and crimes of humanity likely committed by both government soldiers and the Tamil Tigers. It listed indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, sexual violence and child recruitment.
Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka, who led the army to victory, said he is willing to cooperate with any investigation of the military.
"If there is anything against me they can question me and I am ready to face any inquiry," he said. "We don't have to panic unnecessarily, we have to settle the issues amicably and clear the country's image."