Sri Lanka divided as panel backs foreign judges to probe war crimes
Sri Lanka should bring in international prosecutors and judges to help investigate alleged atrocities in the civil war that ended in 2009, a task force said on Thursday in recommendations that were welcomed by the United Nations.
The Consultation Task Force (CTF), appointed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, said foreign involvement was needed because of a lack of confidence in the local judiciary, which it said did not have the expertise and capacity to prosecute war crimes.
However, President Maithripala Sirisena opposes the involvement of foreign judges, and cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senarathne said on Wednesday the government had clearly told the U.N. that it would not allow them.
The war crimes issue is highly divisive, seven years after the end of the 26-year conflict between government forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The U.N. and rights groups have accused the military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly Tamils, during its final weeks.
The office of U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Twitter that he welcomed the CTF’s recommendations, especially its “clear backing of a hybrid court” with local and foreign judges.
The opposition led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president when the government finally defeated the LTTE, has held out against foreign judicial involvement and said his successor is betraying the military for a “Western agenda”.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is the main political party representing Tamils and backed Sirisena in the 2015 presidential election, has demanded foreign judges be brought in, as most similar investigations in the past have failed to prosecute wrongdoers.
The Tamil Tigers were also accused of widespread abuses during the war, such as using child soldiers and targeting civilians with suicide bombers, including an attack on the central bank in 1996 which killed nearly 100 people.
The U.N. launched a probe in 2014 into war crimes allegedly committed by both Sri Lankan state forces and Tamil rebels, saying the government had failed to investigate properly. But
Rajapaksa’s government resisted the probe and denied U.N. officials entry to the island nation.
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the latest UN peace keeping operate in 16 countries according to map dated 2014 of which 13 are in africa and the mideast. Since then the UN has deployed troops under their command to various other hot spots yet they have failed to report on any of the events. Important example is as to what is happening in the war of attrition in Syria. What news that we get is flitered and through the CNN and the Associated press. In recent weeks in the wake of the presidential elections in the US the controversy was about fake news.
Yet Sri Lanka is not a hot spot yet UN has the worlds largest mission located. Their offices extend to more than an acre of prime land. The last time operations of such magnitude took place was during heWorld WarII when the british queens cousin Mounbatten set up operational offices in Peradeniya. Then the largest Consular offices were located in Colombo and its leagcy is evident today.
The only inference that one can make is that the United Nations is nothing more than a covert spy agency and should be treated accordingly. The government rather than baending backwards to please the bums in the UN should be told table their agenda for the next five years and the objectives as opposed to their witch hunting and dictate as to how the government is run regardless of how corr=upt it is for the level of corruption in the UN is greater
The 10 member Consultation Task Force included 5 Sinhala Buddhist citizens one of whom had a son missing in action in the war theatre.
The Committee has unanimously reported on the action Sri Lanka should take in response to the unanimous UN resolution co-sponsored by Sri Lanka.
The man in the top chair, who presided over the final days of the war where it alleged more than 40,000 civilians were genocided, should promptly resign paving the way for Hon Ranil Wickremasinghe to ascend the presidency. Along with that, Mahinda Rajapaksa should ascend the Prime Ministership.
If Sri Lanka fails to act decisively before the next UNHRC sessions in March (instead of waiting for that phone call from Trump to beg forgiveness), a UN supervised referendum in the N&E for self-determination, is looming in the horizon.
Manouri Muttetuwegama (Chairperson)
MANOURI MUTTETUWEGAMA L.L.M, Barrister, Attorney-at-Law. Practitioner in Public Law, Human Rights activist, Chairperson Presidential Commission on Disappearances in the South, West & Sabaragamuwa Provinces 1994 – 97 & All-Island Commission Commission on Disappearances 1998 – 2002, Commissioner Human Rights Commission Sri Lanka 2004 – 2007, Commissioner Presidential Commission on some incidents of serious Human Rights Violations 2005 – 7.
Gamini Viyangoda, a graduate in Development Studies from the University of Colombo, is well known as a writer in Sinhala. He is a prolific translator of 27 great literary works into Sinhala, introducing post-modernist literary trend to Sinhala readership for the first time.
As a columnist for the last three decades, he has been a leading socio-political critic in the public discourse of democracy and good-governance, in addition to being one of the founders and chief organizers of The Purawesi Balaya (Citizens’ Power), a social movement of artistes, intellectuals, professionals and civil activists who threw their weight behind President Maithripala Sisrisena’s successful bid for presidency.
Is the founder and Chair of Association of War Affected Women and Parents of Servicemen Missing in Action, Her second son a Sri Lankan Military officer was reported missing in action in 1998.
Struggling to end the civil war, she was able to bring women together across the conflict lines to work for peace, In coordination with the “1000 Peace women across the globe” movement, she was nominated for a collective Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.. Visaka Dharmadasa holds a degree in negotiations and mediation skills from the United States Institute for Peace, Washington, and in women and security from Harvard University, Cambridge, USA.
K. W. Janaranjana
Mr. K. W. Janaranjana is an Attorney-at-Law, senior journalist and is also the Editor of the newspaper “Ravaya” as well as the Director of the Ravaya Publications Guarantee Limited.
He served as the founder member and the CEO of Rights Now Collective for Democracy through 2007-2008 periods. In addition, Mr. Janaranjana functioned as the assistant secretary and secretary for Free Media Movement prior to his current undertaking where he serves as an executive committee member.
He is also a lecturer of Law and serves as a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Professional Studies (CFPS) Colombo. Mr. Janaranjana is also an active member of Lawyers for Democracy
Prof. Gameela Samarasinghe
Gameela Samarasinghe is a Clinical Psychologist and currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Colombo. She teaches undergraduate courses in Psychology in the Department of Sociology and postgraduate courses at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo. She introduced a Postgraduate Diploma and a Master’s in Counselling and Psychosocial Work at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo. These postgraduate programmes try to provoke thinking on alternative visions of what support to individuals and communities might look like while at the same time providing training on conventional counselling skills. She has been a member of various advisory groups developing strategies for post-conflict trauma in Sri Lanka and internationally.
She has been the recipient of many awards including the Fulbright-Hays Senior Research Scholar Award (2004-2005) at Boston University and the Fulbright Advanced Research Award 2013 – 2014 at Columbia University, New York.
Amongst other national contributions, she was a Member of the Drafting Committee on the section on Torture of the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, July 2009 – 2011. This year, she was appointed to the research committee of the NCPA, and is serving on the Task Forces on the psycho social programme to develop a healing process for the families affected by the conflict and the women for reconciliation programme at the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation.