by AFP in The Hindu, March 22, 2019
‘The state of Sri Lanka cannot be an independent arbiter’
Sri Lanka’s Tamil National Alliance (TNA) demanded on Friday that foreign judges be included in a special court to investigate war crimes, a day after the UN again granted Colombo more time for a much-delayed probe.
With no measurable progress, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday gave Sri Lanka two more years to set up a credible investigation, the second time it has been given an extension. The probe is meant to include a special “hybrid” court involving both local and foreign judges and prosecutors.
But on Wednesday in Geneva, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana said the country’s Constitution did not allow foreign judges.
This prompted uproar from TNA, with lawmaker M.A. Sumanthiran threatening on Friday to report Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court (ICC). “If the government does not agree to a hybrid court, Sri Lanka will have to face a tribunal which will be entirely international,” Mr. Sumanthiran said in Parliament.
He said Tamils will not accept an accountability mechanism that did not involve outsiders. “The state of Sri Lanka cannot be an independent arbiter,” he said.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned this week that Sri Lanka risked slipping back into conflict unless it addressed the “worst crimes” of the war. She noted that Colombo was yet to set up the special judicial mechanism as promised four years ago.