The legal community called for the Government of Sri Lanka to amend the co-sponsored resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in June to read as a strictly local, domestic inquiry with the obtaining of technical support and expert assistance from foreign judges and advisors.
Senior Lecturer at the Department of Commercial Law of the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo, Attorney-at-Law Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa said that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka could be trained to conduct a national inquiry.
Commenting on the Government’s proposed move to establish an Office of Missing Persons, he added that the move was a sudden and rather rash one, adding that there would be a duplication of efforts as the Presidential Commission to Investigate into Complaints Regarding Missing Persons also known as the Paranagama Commission was still functioning and carrying out its mandated work with public consultations, part of their fact finding mission.
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is yet to be appointed, he remarked.
“Initially, at the UNHRC, there was talk of an international inquiry and also hybrid courts (which our legal system and judicial mechanism does not allow for). We have obligations now to the European Union too and if we do not comply there could be economic embargos. President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera held three different views. Sirisena subsequently stated that there would not be an international inquiry and that there would not be foreign judges. Wickremesinghe echoed the same about the latter. Why do we not have one stance and air it at the UNHRC instead of on domestic forums? There is pressure from the Diaspora and organizations like the Human Rights Watch. The Government’s actions will lead to untrustworthiness and the further suppression of the Tamil minority,” he mentioned.
Acting Director General of the Public Communications Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Satya Rodrigo said that the country was scheduled to make an oral report, adding that the delegation had yet to be decided on. (RJ)