COLOMBO:The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid, has recommended that the Sri Lankan Commission to Investigate Cases of Forced Disappearances should he disbanded because its credibility has been seriously questioned by families of the victims and observers.
In his report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Wednesday, Zeid said the task assigned to the missing persons’ commission (headed by former Justice Maxwell Paranagama) should be transferred to a “credible and independent institution established in consultation with the families of the disappeared.”
The Paranagama commission, assisted by foreign experts, including Sir Desmond de Silva of the UK, was appointed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It submitted its final report to President Maithripala Sirisena on August 15 this year.
In his report to the UNHRC, Prince Zied reiterated his demand for an “ad hoc hybrid special court” to investigate and try war crimes with the involvement of foreign judges and other foreign legal personnel.
In his statement, the Lankan Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha, said that his government has taken note of the report of the High Commissioner on Sri Lanka and that it “will ensure that its content and recommendations receive due attention of the relevant authorities including new mechanisms envisaged to be set up.”
Many UNHRC members and NGOs made statements on Zeid’s report. Most referred to the horrendous crimes committed by both the Lankan State and the LTTE. While noting that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime has taken significant strides towards reconciliation and addressing issues of accountability, much work needs to be done to ensure lasting peace, they said. All of them urged the Lankan government to keep its promise to seek the assistance of the international community and the UN. Russia underlined the need for allowing Lanka to choose the kind of help it wants from the international community, and to decide where it wants help and to what extent.
Japan said that it will station a special peace and reconciliation envoy in Sri Lanka and that he will be taking position there in October. Estonia called upon Lanka to sign the Rome Statute and come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Pakistan said that Lanka should be appreciated for defeating terrorism and appealed to the Western world not to be too critical