Foreign Judges Can Help

Law courtsSri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that Sri Lanka will set up a domestic mechanism to try alleged perpetrators of war crimes, but the mechanism will seek the help of foreign judges and lawyers.

“The Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, which will include an office of a Special Counsel, will certainly have the help of not only Sri Lankan, but also Commonwealth and foreign judges and lawyers. But all this has to be authorized by Sri Lankan law,” Wickremesinghe told a gathering of management accountants here on Thursday.  According to DailyFT, he said that a compromise had been reached with the United States and other co-sponsors of the resolution on Lanka’s rights record, which is to be placed before the UNHRC in Geneva on September 30.

The second US draft tabled on Thursday, had stressed the “importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the Special Counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers, and authorized prosecutors and investigators.”

Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that the second draft US resolution was a collaborative one co-sponsored by Sri Lanka and other partners.

He said that the US, Lanka and other partners had tabled a resolution that represents a landmark “shared recognition” of the critical importance of truth, justice, reparations in promoting reconciliation. “The Sri Lankan government’s decision to join as a co-sponsor paves the way for all of us to work together to deliver the commitments reflected in the resolution,” Kerry said.

The resolution marks an important step toward a credible transitional justice process, “owned by Sri Lankans,” the ranking US official pointed out.

Political sources told Express that the special Lankan judicial mechanism will probably seek only “advice” from foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators “as and when necessary.”

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has welcomed the draft of a US-Sri Lanka collaborative resolution on alleged war crimes in Lanka which was tabled at the UNHRC on Thursday.

The TNA said in a statement that it appreciates the Lankan government’s assent to the text which says that the proposed domestic judicial mechanism should also have foreign and Commonwealth judges, lawyers, investigators and defenders.

A court established on these lines will represent a “dramatic break” from the past and could herald the beginning of an end to impunity, the TNA said. (New Indian Express)

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