Zeid continues to underscore ‘hybrid court’

Published : 8:19 am  March 23, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Lahiru Pothmulla   
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid al-Hussein told the 34th regular session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday that they were continuing to underscore the concept of a hybrid court in Sri Lanka in an accountability mechanism.  

Following a debate of the member countries on the resolution on Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner said the points made in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights deserves further consideration by the Sri Lankan government.   

Prior to the resolution debate, in his statement on Sri Lanka, Prince Zeid said a lack of trust in the impartiality of the justice system regarding past violations and an unwillingness or inability to address impunity reinforces the need for international participation in a judicial mechanism.   

“For this to be credible, it should include a special counsel, foreign judges and defence lawyers, and authorized prosecutors and investigators. The National Consultations also identified international participation as a way to gain the trust of the victims,” he said.  He said though progress to establish transitional justice mechanisms has been slow, he is heartened by the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms report, synthesising thousands of submissions from across all ethnic and religious groups. “I urge the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to embrace and make the broadest possible use of the report, following its inclusive and thoughtful consultations. What is needed now is agreement on a comprehensive strategy, with a time-line and detailed benchmarks, to address all the transitional justice pillars identified in Resolution 30/1 – which as the Sri Lankan foreign minister recently reminded us, was co-sponsored by his nation,” he said.   

Sri Lanka’s ratifications of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are also significant steps forward,” he said.   

“Following last year’s legislation to set up an Office of Missing Persons there, I recommend that there be swift progress in establishing this body, which could play a crucial role in resolving cases of enforced disappearances,” the high commissioner said.   

The high commissioner acknowledged in his report the positive advances on human rights and constitutional reform and noted progress regarding constitutional reform, with Parliament establishing itself as a constitutional assembly.   

“I welcome the constructive engagement of the GoSL with my Office. We have continued to provide technical assistance through our presence in Sri Lanka, complemented by frequent expert missions and support by the United Nations Peace-building Fund,” he said. While an effort is underway to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and replace it with legislation that complies with international human rights law, he said this work has yet to be concluded. “Cases of torture, excessive use of force and failure to respect due process continue to be reported. Numerous pending cases under the Prevention of Terrorism Act have not yet been resolved. It will also be essential to effectively operationalise an appropriate vetting procedure – including an independent, civilian human rights component – in advance of any future deployment of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping missions,” he said.   

He urged Sri Lankan Government to regularly consult the Independent Commissions, particularly the Human Rights Commission. “I encourage respect for their mandate and autonomy, adequate financing, and implementation of their recommendations. This Council continues to play an important role in accompanying Sri Lanka towards a safer and more stable future in which there is respect for the dignity and rights of all its people. At the centre of all of this are the victims; there can never be sustainable peace without justice for them. My Office remains committed to continue supporting the Government and people of Sri Lanka on their complex journey towards truth, justice and full accountability,” UN High Commissioner Zeid concluded.