International

Had guts to dismiss U.N. demand for foreign judges: Sirisena

On his move to dismiss a United Nations demand for foreign judges to probe the alleged war crimes committed during the conflict with the LTTE, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said: “I have shown the strength of my backbone.”   | Photo Credit: N Ram

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said he had the guts to dismiss a United Nations demand for foreign judges to probe the alleged war crimes committed during the conflict with the LTTE.

“I have shown the strength of my backbone,” Mr. Sirisena said while addressing the executive committee meeting of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) held here on Thursday.

His comments are being seen as a response to criticism by his own SLFP party.

“Two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights chief had said Sri Lanka must have international judges in the accountability mechanism. The following day, I had the guts to dismiss it,” he said.

Mr. Sirisena’s unity government with the SLFP’s arch-rival United National Party (UNP) led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has rejected the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) call for a hybrid mechanism with local and foreign judges to probe the allegations of war crimes during the last phase of the war with the LTTE.

Tamils insist on foreign judges

The Tamil minority, however, insists on foreign judges, claiming that the local judicial system remains far from trustworthy to deliver justice to the large numbers of Tamil victims of the conflict.

Mr. Sirisena’s comments came as Sri Lanka braced to ask for more time at the ongoing UNHRC session in Geneva to implement the 2015 resolution which stressed on the international hybrid mechanism.

Meanwhile, the Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians on Friday signed a petition urging disallowing of more time to the Sri Lankan government on the resolution implementation.

Opposition leader M.A. Sumanthiran earlier this week said that Sri Lanka must be given more time, not to dodge implementation but to commit for implementation of each one of the obligations.

The Rajapaksa backers calling themselves the Joint Opposition stayed away from Thursday’s SLFP parley despite invitations being extended to them, the party said. They accuse Mr. Sirisena of betraying the war victory achieved by Mr. Rajapaksa.

Last month, Sri Lanka said it needed more time to probe the alleged war crimes committed during the civil war, even as it asserted that the proposed mechanism to deliver justice to the victims would be home-grown and not a copy of the South African model.

According to the U.N. figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by the security forces during Mr. Rajapaksa’s regime that brought an end to nearly three-decade-long civil war in Sri Lanka with the defeat of LTTE in May 2009.


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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 6:15:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/had-guts-to-dismiss-un-demand-for-foreign-judges-sirisena/article17402049.ece

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