War Crimes Probe: Sri Lankan Govt. looking at various options – Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

Flexibility in implementing UNHRC resolution is acceptable

by Zacki Jabbar

The Sri Lankan government was looking at various options within the limits of what they have defined as their preference in the manner in which war crimes accusations against the previous Rajapaksa regime and the LTTE  should be investigated.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein revealed in Colombo last week that with regard to the call by his office for a Hybrid Court to inquire into alleged war crimes, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had indicated that it did not want to appoint foreign judges to the Independent Domestic Court that it had pledged to establish prior to the next session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) scheduled for June this year.

“Your government is looking at various options within the limits of what they have defined as their preference in the manner in which war crimes accusations would be probed. It does not mean that there cannot be variations in how last October’s UNHRC resolution is implemented. Flexibility is taken as given in achieving transitional justice. We can make recommendations, but it is Sri Lanka’s sovereign right to decide on its future”, he said.

The High Commissioner pointed out that in the final analysis “all the victims and not just a privileged few” should be able to say that they had got justice, otherwise the whole process would come to naught.”

“It does not matter how old the crime is. For the victim it would seem like yesterday. That is why it is important that the consultation process continues.”

The office of the UNHCHR, he emphasized, had conducted  a human rights and not criminal investigation and in that process concluded that it was only an independent  court that could determine if systemic or planned war crimes had been committed.

ussein said that ultimately it was where the evidence would lead through an independent and impartial inquiry which would determine prosecutions if any.