Sri Lanka war victims have no trust in domestic mechanism, CTF says while government reiterates no foreign judges
Thu, Jan 5, 2017, 01:45 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Jan 05, Colombo: The Consultation Task Force (CTF) on Reconciliation mechanisms says the victims have no trust that justice will be meted out by a domestic mechanism while the Sri Lankan government has reiterated its stance that there will be no foreign judges in the judicial process seeking accountability for the war time abuses during the last phase of the country’s decades-long civil war.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of the civil society to pressure the government to implement the recommendations made by the Consultation Task Force on including at least one foreign judge in the accountability mechanism, the Secretary of the Consultation Task Force Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu told BBC Sandeshaya.
Dr. Saravanamuttu was responding to the statement made by the Cabinet spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne who stressed at the cabinet media briefing today that there will be no foreign judges in the domestic mechanism.
In its final report released Tuesday, the Task Force has recommended including at least one international judge in the judicial process seeking accountability for the war time abuses during the last phase of the country’s decades-long civil war.
In accordance with the UN consensus resolution Sri Lankan government plans to finalize the transnational justice mechanisms needed to achieve reconciliation and accountability investigating the allegations of human rights violations and war crimes.
Minister Senaratne said anyone can make recommendations but the government’s policy stance is not to include foreign judges in the judicial process on accountability.
The Minister added that the government will consider the recommendations made by the Task Force while pointing out that even the UN had agreed with the government’s policy to include only domestic judges.
He noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein during his visit to Sri Lanka last year accepted the government’s stance of not including international judges.
Dr. Saravanamuttu however said the people in the North and East doubt that they could have confidence in a local judicial system and they question whether they can trust a domestic judiciary to be impartial.
“If a mechanism would be set up for accountability, there is no faith in only a domestic mechanism. If searching for accountability, independence and faith in the system are essential,” he said. “That is why the CTF recommended a system of mixed judges,” the secretary of the CTF added.
“We talked to the people in the North and the South, The recommendations were made base on their information,” he said,
The Task Force report says that crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanitarian law, torture, disappearances and rape are serious human rights abuses and it is illegal to forgive such crimes.