Colombo, March 3 (NIA) – The United Nations has reiterated its call to establish a hybrid court in Sri Lanka which includes foreign judges and lawyers to probe allegations of human rights abuses and war crimes, allegedly committed during and after the island’s 30 year civil conflict.
In a 17 page report to be published on March 22, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein noted that Sri Lanka should adopt legislation establishing the hybrid court, which should include international judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators, to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law, and provide it with the resources necessary to enable it to try those responsible promptly and effectively.
The report also calls on the government to ‘enact legislation to criminalize war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and enforced disappearances without statutes of limitation, and enact modes of criminal liability, in particular command or superior responsibility.’
The UN Human Rights Chief has renewed his calls to establish the hybrid court despite the government maintaining that it would not allow any foreign involvement in its domestic war crimes probe.
On Thursday, President Maithripala Sirisena said that during a meeting of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee and Executive Committee, he would not allow the presence of foreign judges in the domestic war crimes probe.
The President said that despite the UN Human Rights Council proposing that foreign judges be invited to Sri Lanka to be involved in the judicial process to investigate human rights abuses related to the war, he had made it clear that foreign judges will not be invited to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday said that setting up a hybrid court in the island country was not ‘politically feasible’.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the National Law Week organized by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Wickremesinghe requested the judicial experts in the country to help the government find a viable alternative.
“Setting up a hybrid court is not politically feasible because such a move would need a referendum. Against this back drop, how can we fulfill the expectations of the international community? Let’s get together and think of a feasible alternative for such a court,” Wickremesinghe was quoted by the Daily Mirror.
Meanwhile, in his report, Hussain also called on the government to promptly investigate and prosecute all allegations of torture and other gross human rights violations, and give the highest priority to long-standing emblematic cases so as to regain public confidence in the justice system.
The full report of the High Commissioner is available here: