UN seeks special court on Sri Lankan war crimes

GENEVA (TIP): The United Nations commissioner for human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, on September 15 called for the creation of a special court to investigate the war crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s 25-year-long insurgency in which between 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed.

Hussein outlined horrific abuses during the conflict, including torture, executions, and sexual abuse by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, as well as suicide attacks, assassinations and recruitment of child soldiers by the LTTE. Presenting a 270-page report focu sing on the period from 2002 to 2011, Zeid called for the creation of a “hybrid special court” that would include foreign judges and investigators.

The report recommends a range of measures to develop a comprehensive transitional justice policy to address the human rights violations of the past 30 years and prevent their recurrence.

These hybrid special court will prove the war crimes and crimes against humanity , with the integration of international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, as an essential step towards justice. This cannot be done by a domestic court as the report states that the Lankan criminal justice system is not capable of handling such types of crimes, an absence of victim and witness protection, which is topped by the distor tion and corruption of Sri Lanka’s security sector and justice system by decades of conflict and impunity .

Presenting the report, Zeid hoped that the report will be consequential and end impunity for crimes. He calls for soul searching among the Sri Lankans for reconciliation.Not only have war crimes and crimes against humanity have apparently been committed by state actors but also by the LTTE and other groups.

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Over the years there have been denials and cover-ups. Investigations have not been tardy and those who pushed for justice met reprisals. There is anger, sceptisim, and mistrust by the victims at the repeated failure of successive domestic inquiries to bring justice. The new Lanka government has acknowledged the report and given encouraging signs, according to the High Commission of Human Rights.

Lankan troops blamed for killing French aid workers 

The United Nations on Wednesday pointed the finger at Sri Lankan forces over the killing of 17 French charity workers on the island nine years ago, despite repeated denials by the military. A UN war crimes report on Sri Lanka said the 2006 attack against Action Against Hunger (ACF) staff was “the most significant case of humanitarian workers killed” in the country. “Based on the information (the investigation), there are reasonable grounds to believe that members of the security forces committed the extrajudicial executions of the ACF staff,” the report said. It is the first time a UN body has placed blame for the aid workers’ deaths on Sri Lankan forces.

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