Mechanism will be ready by January and inquiry expected to be completed in 18 months
International opinion backs UNHRC recommendations
By Siva Sivapragasam
Quickly acting on the UNHRC Report on the findings of alleged war crimes and human rights violations during the Vanni war, the Sri Lankan Government has promised to set-up a domestic mechanism by January next year. Foreign experts will assist the inquiry in an advisory capacity.
The above assurance was spelt out by Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at a Media briefing yesterday (Wednesday)).
Speaking at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry, Samaraweera said that the government was confident of obtaining international support for a domestic inquiry. He also hoped that the process could be completed in 18 months.
Samaraweera said that international experts could play a role in technical and advisory capacities in this domestic mechanism.
The Foreign Minister blamed the previous government of Mahinda Rajapaksa for tarnishing the credibility of the judiciary.
TNA, the elected representative body of Tamils in Sri Lanka has welcomed the UNHRC recommendation for the setting up of a special hybrid international court and has also requested the Sri Lankan Government to quickly implement the assurances provided to the UN Assembly by Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samraweera for a truth and fact finding mechanism and other allied matters.
Human Rights Watch has also backed the UNHRC’S recommendation for an international cum domestic court.” The call by the United Nations’ top human rights officer for a domestic-international hybrid court to address allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka should receive strong endorsement by members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva”, Human Rights Watch said.
Meanwhile, The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) said that it welcomes the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report on Sri Lanka that strongly indicated that war crimes and crimes against humanity were most likely committed by both sides to the conflict and recommended the establishment of an international Special Court for criminal prosecution.
UK Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Hugo Swire welcomed the publication of the report from the investigation on Sri Lanka by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR).
The Canadian Tamil Congress has also welcomed the recommendations in the UNHRC Report and stated that any domestic process is unacceptable and unfit to address grievances of the Tamil people. The CTC statement further states “The Tamil community, both in Sri Lanka and abroad, had waited long enough for justice and accountability for the violation committed in Sri Lanka. We hope that this report marks the beginning of a process that will see them receive justice.
Sources told “Monsoon Journal” that names of those involved with perpetrating the alleged abuses during the final phases of the war in Sri Lanka had not been included in the Report. However, according to these sources, names would be given once a credible, competent judicial investigation is carried out – in which case the names would be passed on to the relevant authorities.
The United States, which had pushed for the March 2014 resolution at the UNHRC against Sri Lanka, recently said that it was supportive of a domestic mechanism.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Assembly has called for an international inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka and urged the Indian Central government to move a strong resolution at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for such an inquiry. The Chief Minister of Northern Province C.V. Wigneswaran on Wednesday welcomed the resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Government and told the Media “We thank Selvi Jayalalithaa for the extreme concern she has shown over our situation. It augurs well for the future. It demonstrates a sense of togetherness that exists between Tamils all over the world,”
In a hard-hitting editorial, the prestigious Boston Globe stated, “No country that emerges from civil war can truly heal until the dead have been accounted for and steps toward reconciliation have been made. Sri Lanka is no exception.”