The Human Rights Watch has urged the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its commitments to the United Nations Human Rights Council by ensuring that foreign judges and prosecutors play a significant role in the mandated accountability mechanism for wartime abuses.
On January 21, 2016, President Maithripala Sirisena told the BBC, contrary to Sri Lanka‘s council commitments, that he will “never agree to international involvement,” saying “[w]e have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues.
“The Sri Lankan government sought international involvement to ensure justice and accountability so there’s no excuse for backtracking now,” said Brad Adams, Asia director.
“President Sirisena needs to understand that international participation in a war crimes tribunal was not a vague promise to the UN but a firm commitment to the thousands of Sri Lankans who suffered during the country’s long civil war.”
President Sirisena’s statement comes just weeks before a scheduled visit to the country by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
The high commissioner’s office released a report detailing wartime abuses by both sides, calling for a “hybrid” justice mechanism given the shortcomings of domestic institutions to ensure impartial investigations and witness protection, and the Sri Lankan government’s failure to take meaningful accountability measures since the war ended in May 2009.
The 2015 Human Rights Council resolution affirms the importance of participation in a justice mechanism of “Commonwealth and other foreign judges … and authorized prosecutors and investigators.”