Sri Lanka says no to foreign judges in war crimes probe
The Sri Lankan government has rejected a fresh appeal from the UN to allow international judges to investigate alleged war crimes committed during the conflict with the LTTE, vowing to not prosecute soldiers.
The UN Human Rights Council on Friday had criticised Sri Lanka's "slow" progress in addressing its wartime past and reiterated its earlier call for hybrid court of international and local judges to investigate allegations of rights violations.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe rejected the demand, saying it was impractical.
"It is not a practical proposal to set up a hybrid court.
The demand came at a time when there was no international confidence in the local judiciary," Wickremesinghe had said addressing a Law Conference here on Friday.
He said the conduct of the judiciary has improved under the current unity government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and there was no need now for a hybrid court.
Sirisena himself addressing troops in the northern Jaffna peninsula on Saturday said he would not subject the Sri military personnel to any probe.
"I have clearly said that I am not prepared to serve charge sheets to our soldiers or to have foreign judges to try our security forces," Sirisena said.
"It is my duty to protect the troops," he said.
The UN rights chief's report on Friday asked Sri Lanka to adopt legislation establishing a hybrid court with international judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators.
The Tamil minority insists on a probe with foreign judges, saying that the Sri Lankan judicial system could not be relied upon to deliver justice to Tamil victims of the conflict.
Last month, Sri Lanka said it needed more time to probe the alleged war crimes committed during the civil war and insisted that the proposed mechanism to deliver justice to the victims would be homegrown and not a copy of the South African model. According to the UN figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by the security forces during former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime that brought the civil war to an end by defeating the LTTE.