(Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe)
Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe yesterday vowed that the domestic inquiry, the Sri Lankan government would launch to investigate the excesses allegedly took place at the final phase of the war, would for surely be a credible mechanism for the global as well as the local community.
Commenting on the statement that has been made by the New York based INGO, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Geneva on Monday night that Sri Lanka should include a majority of international judges or prosecutors in the domestic mechanism it intends to establish to address the accountability issue, Minister Rajapakshe said the International Community must keep confidence in Sri Lanka.
“I must say that our domestic inquiry would definitely be a credible mechanism acceptable to the international community. We are in constant touch with the relevant global agencies and organizations in constituting this panel for a credible investigation.
“Sri Lanka has also sought the advice of eminent persons like Sir Desmond De Silva of UK who has a thorough knowledge on International Humanitarian Law. The term of reference, formation and the composition of the inquiry panel would be known by before the UNHRC report releases in September,” Minister Rajapakshe told the Daily Mirror.
“The global community has been much flexible and cooperative with the new government,” he said.
“The global community has expressed its agreement and satisfaction over the style of the new government runs affairs – the maintaining of Judicial Independence in particular and the appointment of a Chief Justice adhering to the accepted norms and traditions,” he stressed.
He added the global community looked at Sri Lanka with suspicion during the office of the previous government.
“Sri Lanka has given a pledge in May 23, 2009 to the Secretary General of the UN Ban-ki Moon that we would initiate credible mechanism to probe and follow up action on incidences of human rights violations allegedly occurred at the tail end of the war against terrorism.
“We cannot over-ride that pledge and we would definitely launch a domestic inquiry acceptable to the international and local community in our own way,” Minister Rajapakshe emphasised.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in establishing a credible and transparent justice and accountability process, the new government in Sri Lanka should ensure that any mechanism be either international, or at a minimum, include a majority of international judges and prosecutors.
The rights group, delivering a statement at the 29th session of the United Nations Human rights Council (UNHRC) on Monday in Geneva, said the session marked a midway point in the time given to the Sri Lankan government to demonstrate its willingness to cooperate on human rights issues.
According to the HRW the UN Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice has noted that “it is imperative for Sri Lanka to take some immediate action to demonstrate its commitment to redressing past violations,” including: Clarifying the fate of the disappeared; Addressing land issues; and the ending of continuing forms of harassment, violence and unjustified surveillance of civil society and victims of rights abuses.
The HRW further said that in establishing a domestic mechanism, Sri Lanka should ensure genuine consultations with those affected by the violations and take immediate steps towards resolving key outstanding issues.
The rights group also emphasised that Sri Lanka should keep its promise to the UN to fully cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and allow it full access to any new or additional information it may require. (Sandun A Jayasekera)