COLOMBO: The United States’ draft resolution on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka has called for the involvement of international judges, prosecutors and investigators in the domestic judicial mechanism which Colombo is expected to set up to try cases of war crimes, a Geneva-datelined report in “WeekendFT” said on Saturday.
But indicating a softening of the US stand on Lanka, the draft resolution praises the steps taken by the new Lankan government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to restore democracy and promote ethnic reconciliation in the island nation.
The US draft, which was handed over to the Lankan government on September 17, will be discussed with its representatives in Geneva on September 21, the report said.
The draft is likely to undergo modifications as a result of these consultations, particularly because the two sides are pledged to present a “collaborative resolution” to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on September 30.
Through the “collaborative resolution”, the US and the core group plan to tie Lanka to the resolution. It will be difficult for Lanka to renege on it, especially if the resolution is passed unanimously. And given US dominance in the UNHRC, the resolution is expected to be passed unanimously by voice vote.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had earlier recommended the establishment of a “hybrid” court with both international and Lankan judges in its report submitted to the UNHRC on Wednesday.
The US draft resolution is mostly on the lines of the UN report. While seeking credible measures to ensure “transitional justice”, the draft has called for an “oral report” to the UNHRC in September 2016 on the progress made in implementation of the resolution. And a “comprehensive report” has to be presented in March 2017, it said.
SL Leaders Defend UN Report
Speaking to heads of Lankan media institutions on Friday, President Sirisena said that the UN High Commissioner’s report could have been a “thousand times stronger” if it were not for his government’s steps to promote reconciliation and democracy since January.
He appealed to Lankans to take a sober view of the recommendations and not oppose even a domestic probe into alleged war crimes. “The choice is only between an international probe and a domestic probe,” he warned.
And Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said: “We have not sold our sovereignty or integrity. We have saved not only Sri Lanka’s future but also political VVIPs of the previous regime.”
The UN report did not name former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his colleagues and the commanders of the armed forces in its indictment.
Call For Caution
In its edit on Saturday, “The Island” daily appealed to the government not to commit the country to the UN’s recommendations without getting the approval of parliament.