HRCSL: Foreign judges will enhance confidence in war crimes probe

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government had agreed to the participation of foreign judges in a war crimes probe in accordance with Oct 1, 2015 Resolution moved at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Human Rights Commissioner Ambika Satkunanathan says.

She said so participating in a TV 1 programme yesterday. Asked by host Faraz Shauketaly to comment on foreign judges in proposed war crimes courts, Satkunanathan said: “it is something the government has agreed to as part of the HRC Resolution.”

Sri Lanka last March reiterated her commitment to 2015 Resolution. Sri Lanka co-sponsored both Resolutions.

Commenting on reports that foreign judges were required as local judiciary lacked experience to handle such cases,

Satkunanathan said: “I think if you look at the Resolution that was passed, I think it said with the participation of foreign judges including those from the Commonwealth.”

Satkunanathan said that the term participation could be interpreted in many ways.

The HRCSL official said that judges from other jurisdictions had to be included in a judicial mechanism if the public for whatever the reasons didn’t have confidence in structures as well as processes in their own country. Such measures were needed to boost public confidence, Satkunanathan said.

The government appointed Manouri Muttetuwegama Committee in January this year recommended foreign judges as well as other foreign experts in local mechanism.

“If you talk about issues in relation to international criminal law, you may not have adequate number of personnel with required expertise,” Satkunanathan said. The inclusion of personnel from other jurisdictions could enhance confidence and secure public support on the basis the process was strengthened by foreign presence as well as under scrutiny by them.

The official denied the claim that the HRCSL was in the habit of taking ‘directives’ from the UNHRC. She insisted that the HRCSL followed international human rights standards and it wouldn’t be right to assert HRCSL received instructions from Geneva or New York.

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