International judges can’t operate in Sri Lanka: Minister

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Colombo, Aug 18 (PTI): International judges cannot work in Sri Lanka to hear cases of alleged war crimes blamed on the government troops and the LTTE as the Constitution does not permit it, new Foreign Minister Thilak Marapona said on Friday.

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution co- sponsored by Sri Lanka in 2015 called for a hybrid international mechanism to hear alleged cases of war crimes blamed on the government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). “Sri Lanka’s Constitution does not allow foreign judges to operate in the country and hear cases,” Marapona told reporters here. “We have told the international community that our constitution does not permit that and they have accepted it,” Marapona said. The minister said the UNHRC has not advocated foreign judges to sit during the judgement of cases.

The Tamil and international rights organisations have demanded foreign judges in cases probing alleged human rights violations during the civil war as they have no trust in the country’s judiciary. Lanka maintains that since the new government came into power in 2015, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary has been established. Sri Lanka has faced three adverse UNHRC resolutions since 2012. In 2014, the resolution prescribed an international investigations into human rights abuses blamed on both the LTTE and the government troops.

The previous Mahinda Rajapaksa government refused to cooperate with the UN on the resolutions citing sovereignty. The current government has adopted a conciliatory attitude towards the UN mechanism by allowing UN special rapporteurs to visit the country. According to UN figures, up to 40,000 civilians were killed by security forces during Rajapaksa’s regime that brought an end to the brutal civil war with the defeat of LTTE in 2009.

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