Sri Lanka Tamils demand foreign judges to probe war crimes

According to the government figures, around 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts including the civil war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east which claimed at least 100,000 lives.

Published: 23rd March 2019 10:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2019 10:48 AM   |  A+A-

Court Hammer, judgement, order

For representational purposes


COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's main Tamil party TNA on Friday called for allowing foreign judges and prosecutors to probe the alleged war crimes, a day after the UN Human Rights Council gave Colombo two more years to set up a credible investigation into the country's brutal civil war.

Sri Lankan troops are accused of killing at least 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians during former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime that brought an end to the three-decade-long civil war with the LTTE in 2009, according to the UN.

According to the government figures, around 20,000 people are missing due to various conflicts including the civil war with Lankan Tamils in the north and east which claimed at least 100,000 lives.

The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday approved giving two more years to the Sri Lankan government to set up a credible war crimes investigation into the civil war.

M A Sumanthiran, the senior Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesman, said that they would urge for "a tribunal which is entirely international".

"We will take the case to the International Criminal Court," he said while addressing Parliament.

Sumanthiran said the official position taken by Foreign Minister Thilak Marapana on Wednesday in Geneva that foreign judges cannot constitutionally operate in Sri Lanka was false.

"It is false to say that the constitution does not allow foreign judges to function," he said.

Referring to a case precedent in 2001, Sumanthiran, a lawyer, said that the constitutional provisions do not curtail or restrict the operation of foreign judges in Sri Lanka.

He said that the UNHRC resolution adopted in October 2015, which was co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, Colombo is bound to allow an international investigation.

Sumanthiran said that when the government of Sri Lanka stands on one side with the militant group which fought for a separate state on the other side, only the foreign judges can ensure the impartiality of investigation.

"We Tamils have no alternative but to work towards an international judicial process. We prefer a hybrid judicial mechanism," he said.

In Geneva on Thursday, the UN's top rights body approved without a vote a resolution to postpone discussing the implementation of an official probe into crimes committed during the civil war.

The Sri Lankan government said that the resolution, which was adopted without a vote, had recognised the progressive steps already taken by Sri Lanka since 2015.

Its action to co-sponsor the resolution had shown the commitment on Sri Lanka to achieve reconciliation through accountability, the government said in a statement.

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