UN demands foreign judges in Sri Lanka war probe

ECONOMYNEXT – The United Nations Friday renewed its demand for international judges and prosecutors to try Sri Lankan war criminals despite President Maithripala Sirisena repeatedly rejecting it.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a report to be published on March 22 criticised Sri Lanka for failing to make any progress in prosecuting those responsible for war time atrocities.

Zeid said Sri Lanka should adopt legislation "establishing a hybrid court, which should include international judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators."

This would be to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law, he said adding that the law must be retro active.

The damning 17-page report came even as President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe repeatedly insisted that they cannot accept international judges saying that the constitution did not provide for it.

The UN also wants Sri Lanka 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."

Zeid said measures taken by the new Sri Lankan government which came to power in January 2015 were inadequate and blamed coalition politics for the lacklustre progress.

"The structures set up and measures taken until now have been inadequate, lacked coordination and a sense of urgency.

"Party politics, including the balancing of power between the different constituencies of the coalition in the run-up to constitutional reforms, have contributed to a reluctance to address difficult issues regarding accountability or to clearly articulate a unified position by all parts of Government."

The full report of the High Commissioner is available here:

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http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session34/Documents/A_HRC_34_20_EN.docx

 

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