Move To Dilute “Foreign Judges” Clause In Resolution

By Easwaran Rutnam 
The government may seek support to dilute a controversial clause in a resolution which was passed in 2015, when a follow-up resolution on Sri Lanka is presented to the UN Human Rights Council during the ongoing session in Geneva.

Government sources said that discussions will be held to get the support of UN Human Rights Council members to bring down the pressure to implement the clause in Resolution 30/1 which calls for the participation of Commonwealth and other foreign judges in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism when investigating the war.

President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said last week that Sri Lanka will not have foreign judges or a hybrid system in the accountability process but international human rights groups have demanded that Sri Lanka stick to its earlier promise.

Diplomatic sources said that it was unlikely the clause will be removed when the follow-up resolution on Sri Lanka is submitted later this month as this could result in a division in the Council on the Sri Lankan issue.

The follow-up resolution will give Sri Lanka two years to implement and show progress on the human rights issue.

Resolution 30/1 titled “promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka” was adopted by the UNHRC with Sri Lanka’s support in 2015 but the clause on foreign judges became a sticky point.

A report on Sri Lanka by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, which was made public last week, makes a number of concrete recommendations, including calling on the government to adopt legislation establishing a hybrid court.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told participants at a briefing on Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the ongoing 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the government will not bring any amendments to the law to include foreign judges.

On Thursday President Maithripala Sirisena asserted that there will not be foreign judges in the local investigations on human rights abuses.

The President expressed this view during a meeting of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee.

He told the SLFP the UN Human Rights Council had proposed that foreign judges be invited to Sri Lanka to be involved in the judicial process to investigate human rights abuses related to the war.

The President however said that he had made it clear that foreign judges will not be invited to Sri Lanka.

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