Documented crimes must be investigated if victims of atrocities are to have any real opportunity of seeking justice.
A long-awaited UN report has detailed horrific abuses committed in Sri Lanka’s civil war and said the country needed international help to probe the crimes to enable reconciliation.
“A purely domestic court procedure will have no chance of overcoming widespread and justifiable suspicions fuelled by decades of violations, malpractice and broken promises,” UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement, calling for “a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators”.
Tens of thousands of people went missing in Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, the UN report said, suggesting “enforced disappearance” was part of a systematic policy.
The UN’s human rights agency said “the phenomenon of enforced disappearance has affected tens of thousands of Sri Lankans for decades during all stages of the armed conflict,” which ended in 2009.
Sri Lanka promised to deliver justice for the crimes committed during the nation’s civil war.
The foreign ministry stopped short, however, of directly addressing the UN’s proposal to set up the court to prosecute those from the government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels suspected of atrocities.
“The government of Sri Lanka will ensure dialogue and wide consultations with all stakeholders … in putting in place mechanisms and measures that will facilitate the right to know, right to justice, reparations and guaranteeing non-recurrence with the aim of achieving reconciliation and durable peace,” the ministry said in a statement to Reuters news agency.
It also said that the report’s recommendations would “receive due attention of the relevant authorities, including the new mechanisms that are envisaged to be set up”.