US-resolution calls for Participation of C’wealth judges

Published : 9:42 am  September 25, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (487) reads | 

Resolution tabled with amendments

By Lakna Paranamanna 
The US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka was tabled before the UNHRC late last evening despite a delay of a few hours, with several amendments made in its text. The resolution has reiterated the international role in the domestic accountability process, and called on Sri Lanka to allow the participation of ‘Commonwealth and other foreign judges’ in the judicial mechanism due to be created to address issues of accountability.

The resolution that was co-sponsored by the UK, Macedonia and Montenegro, was due to be tabled at the UNHRC today by 1.00 pm (Geneva time). But negotiations between the ‘Core Group’ sponsors and the Sri Lankan delegation, to reach a consensus, consequent on objections raised over the language and certain terms included in the draft text, held back the tabling of the report for a few hours and it was eventually tabled at 6.00 pm (Geneva time).  The resolution that contains 20 Operative paragraphs and 23 preambular paragraphs, has welcomed several measures proposed and implemented by the new government to address issues of accountability. It has commended the recognition given by the Government of Sri Lanka, to the significance of an accountability process to uphold the rule of law, and has appreciated the proposal made by the Government to establish a judicial mechanism with a Special Counsel to probe into allegations of human rights and international humanitarian law violations.  But, concurrently, it has affirmed the need to create independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions, led by personnel known for their integrity and impartiality, and has further noted the ‘importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the Special Counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers, and authorized prosecutors and investigators’.

While welcoming the positive engagement between the GoSL and the OHCHR as well as the UN Human Rights Chief since January this year, the resolution has declared support for the four-tiered accountability mechanism that was proposed by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during his address on the opening day of the ongoing UNHRC session. 
The resolution notes that the commitments made by the Government, if fully and credibly implemented, would ‘help account for serious crimes by all sides and help achieve reconciliation’.  

It has also recognised the need for an accountability and reconciliation process for the violations and abuses committed by the LTTE, as highlighted in the recently released OISL (OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka) report.
Among other recommendations in the resolution is the issuance of Certificates of Absence to the families of the missing as a temporary measure of relief, acceleration of land return to their rightful civilian owners and the implementation of further efforts to end military involvement in civilian activities and the resumption of livelihoods and the restoration of normality to civilian life.   Moreover, it has encouraged the government to introduce effective security sector reforms — as part of its transitional justice process — that would aid in improving the reputation and professionalism of the military forces. 


sdasasdasIt has affirmed the need to create independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions


The resolution also calls for the OHCHR to continue to monitor Sri Lanka’s progress in the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes linked to reconciliation, accountability, and human rights, and calls for the High Commissioner’s Office to present an oral update to the UNHRC at its 32nd session, as well as a comprehensive report followed by discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its 34th session. 

Informal consultations on the US-sponsored draft resolution on Sri Lanka began on Monday. During the meeting, Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinghe made an intervention and raised objection over the language used in the draft, describing it as ‘repetitive, judgmental and prescriptive’. He also noted that certain terminologies included in the draft were ‘intrusive’ and pointed out that it was unhelpful in adopting a collaborative approach to reaching a consensus.  Meanwhile, during the second informal consultation, the officials of the SL delegation suggested several amendments, and the deletion of 14 out of the total 26 operative paragraphs,including the deletion of paragraph four that calls for the proposed transitional justice process to include ‘independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for integrity and impartiality’ and to ‘involve international investigators, prosecutors and judges in Sri Lanka’s justice processes’.