Civil society groups in Sri Lanka today demanded a policy statement from the government on the UNHRC resolution on involving foreign judges to probe alleged atrocities committed during the civil war with the LTTE, days after President Maithripala Sirisena backtracked on the issue.
Expressing concern over withdrawal from the obligations specinternational ified in the UN Human Rights Council resolution, the civil society said the government must be held accountable.
“We feel that it is time that all stakeholders, both within the country and in the international community, hold the government accountable to its Geneva commitments,” several rights organisations said in a statement.
Sirisena, in an interview to BBC Sinhala last week, had said he will never agree to “international involvement” as Sri Lanka has “more than enough” experts and knowledgeable people to solve internal issues.
He had even expressed full confidence in the existing judicial system and in Sri Lanka’s investigative authorities.
However, in October 2015, the Sirisena government had co-sponsored the UNHRC resolution calling for a special judicial mechanism to prosecute war criminals – with support from foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators.
The civil society alleged the resolution was a compromise, “much to the disappointment of many victims and activists”.
“The government now appears to be backtracking from even these compromised commitments,” they said.
Following the Sirisena interview, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in another interview appeared to be engaging in damage control when he stated that the government will abide by commitments given to UNHRC in Geneva, they said.
They said that these contradictions between the President and the Prime Minister are not new and have been a constant feature of the government’s commitments.
The civil society demanded that the government release a policy statement, clarifying its position on the UNHRC resolution, in particular its stance with regard to the commitment to institute a hybrid process.
Sirisena has also come under fire from international rights groups, who allege that the victims of the 26-year war consider a purely domestic investigation to be untrustworthy. ( PTI)