The Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTFRM) officially handed over the Final Report and executive summary on the island-wide public consultations it carried out on 5 January 2017. A media briefing on this regard was held at the auditorium of the Government Information Department on the same day.
In sharp variance with the government’s stand, the task force report said foreigners should be part of the office of the Special Counsel of prosecutors and investigators and contribute technical assistance. The court should have “a majority of national judges as well as a sufficient number of international judges” to ensure at least one foreign judge per bench in the judicial process seeking accountability for the war time abuses during the last phase of the country’s decades-long civil war. The Task Force also recommends including foreign experts among the staff of its Special Advisory Office.
It also recommended including both male and female judges and judges representing all ethnic communities in the country in the judicial mechanisms. “International participation should be phased out once trust and confidence in domestic mechanism are established and when the required expertise and capacity has been built up, nationally,” the executive summary of the report said.
The Task force recommended creating a special structure for women and children during examination of witnesses and focus special attention on sexual crimes and crimes against children.
Recommendations also say that the international 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.
Commenting on the report, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the government would not waver from its original stance of not having foreign judges.
However High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein taking to his twitter account said he has always urged the creation of a hybrid Court especially the call for international judges to be involved in an accountability mechanism.
In a tweet sent out on Thursday morning, the official United Nations Human Rights Office account said High Commissioner Zeid “welcomes CTF recs, esp clear backing of hybrid court with local & foreign judges”.
A further tweet added, “Zeid has always urged the creation of a hybrid court in #SriLanka”.
A link to the High Commissioner’s comments following the release of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), which reiterates his call for” a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigator” was also tweeted.