The United Nations Human Rights Council urged Sri Lanka to stablish a hybrid special Court integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators to address patterns of grave human rights violations that occurred between the year 2002 and 2011 in Sri Lanka.
At the 30th Session yesterday in Geneva, Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein releasing the report that was submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 25/1, including the principal findings of OHCHR’s comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights, confirmed that there were grave violations which had taken place in Sri Lanka ‘strongly indicating that war crimes and crimes against humanity were most likely committed by both sides to the conflict’.
“The levels of mistrust in State authorities and institutions by broad segments of Sri Lankan society should not be underestimated,” the High Commissioner said. “It is for this reason that the establishment of a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, is so essential. A purely domestic court procedure will have no chance of overcoming widespread and justifiable suspicions fuelled by decades of violations, malpractice and broken promises, the HR Commissioner said.
The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council last year to conduct a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period 2002-11.
The investigation report is based on eye-witness testimony, interviews with victims and witnesses, video and photographic material including satellite imagery (much of which is not in the public domain) which have been analyzed by forensic and military experts, and an extensive review of documentation, including about 3,000 written statements and submissions, as well as previously unpublished reports. The OHCHR investigation team was not granted access to Sri Lanka and faced other constraints, including the previous Government’s use of threats, intimidation and surveillance to prevent people, particularly in the North of the country, from cooperating with the investigation, the report asserted.
The report stated that information indicates patterns of abductions leading to forced recruitment of adults by the LTTE, which intensified towards the end of the conflict. Extensive recruitment and use of children in armed conflict by the LTTE and by the paramilitary Karuna group, which supported the Government following its spilt from the LTTE in 2004, was also documented; attacks on civilians and civilian objects and there were reasonable grounds to believe that many attacks during the last phase of the war did not comply with international humanitarian law principles on the conduct of hostilities, particularly the principle of distinction.
Such conduct, if proven in a court of law, may constitute a war crime; Violations during the detention of internally displaced people (IDPs) in closed camps and the manner in which the screening processes were carried out, to separate former LTTE combatants from civilians, failed to meet international standards and facilitated ill-treatment and abuse.