Colombo, January 5 (The New Indian Express): The Sri Lankan Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTFRM) has recommended that the proposed Judicial Mechanism (JM) to try war crimes cases have at least one foreign judge in every bench. But it made it a point to add that the majority of the judges will be Sri Lankan.
In the report made public on Thursday, the CTFRM said that this recommendation is line with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution of 2015 which Sri Lanka co-sponsored.
The CTFRM, headed by Manori Muttetuwegama, also recommended the participation of foreign personnel in investigation and prosecution. But the foreign personnel should first be vetted in terms of experience, integrity, and knowledge of local languages and social customs.
It said that the Special Court or Judicial Mechanism should have its own investigating team which should exclude personnel of the Sri Lankan Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) to avoid pre-judging of issues.
On the constitution of the national or Sri Lankan element in the Judicial Mechanism, the CTFRM said that it should reflect gender difference and Sri Lanka’s ethnic diversity.
The Special Court should not give amnesty in cases of grave violations of war crimes, international international human rights law and grave crimes like rape.
The CTFM said that in the Office of Missing Persons to be set up, there should be international personnel to ensure impartiality.
The report however said that foreign personnel in the various mechanisms should be phased out as and when the victims gain confidence in the impartiality of Sri Lankans on the mechanisms.
The report recommended the setting up of a Truth Commission which will have its own independent investigating unit without the participation of the TID. Since it is not a judicial body, the Truth Commission should not be allowed to grant amnesty.
The Truth Commission should have a fixed term, at the end of which, it should submit a report. The implementation of its recommendations must be monitored and made public through a periodic Action Taken Report.
The CTFRM stressed the importance of awarding of Reparations or compensation to the victims of rights violation. But it added that reparations are not a substitute for the finding of the truth and securing justice through criminal prosecution.
The reparations must be innovative and creative, and must include facilities for education and employment. They must be well targeted keeping in view the vulnerability of the victim and the nature of the crime. Reparations could be one off payments or longer term, depending on the need of the victims,
The CTFRM wholeheartedly supported the victims’ right to mourn their dead and recommended that they be given the right to put up or preserve memorials. And where these had been demolished or built upon, the new structures should be removed.
The State also could have memorials for its dead, but these memorials should have a “collective ownership” and the victims should be consulted in the process of constructing them, the CTFRM report said.
(The featured image at the top shows Sri Lankan Tamil families demanding to know the whereabouts of missing kin)