Sri Lanka will set up a special court to examine alleged war crimes committed in the final phase of the government’s war with the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), announced the head of the reconciliatory task force and former president Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Ms Kumartunga stressed that though there will be foreign technical assistance, foreign judges would not be allowed in the process.
Stating that reconciliation is not possible without missing past mistakes, Ms Kumaratunga said,
“The special court should start work by the end of this month or by early January. No reconciliation is possible without accepting the mistakes of the past. They will not be chasing behind every soldier.”
Sri Lanka co-sponsored a binding UNHRC resolution in September that called for participation of foreign judges, investigators and prosecutors in a war crimes court to investigate systemic crimes committed by Sri Lanka’s government over an extensive time period. Notably Sri Lanka’s government also committed to reform domestic law to allow for “the trial and punishment of those most responsible for the full range of crimes under the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations relevant to violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law,” remains unaddressed.
The UNHRC resolution added requirements for "broad national consultations with the inclusion of victims and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, from all affected communities that will inform the design and implementation of these processes, drawing on international expertise, assistance and best practices,” before setting up any reconciliation process.
Sri Lanka's announcement of a special court for war crimes in Sri Lanka comes as Tamil Civil Society raised concerns about the lack of proper consultation with victim communities and provisions taken for witness protection as well as progress on de-militarisation of the North-East. Questions regarding the time frame of such an investigation have also been questioned by victim communities.
Notably, residential areas, towns and hospitals were also bombed by Sri Lanka’s Airforce during Ms Kumaratunga’s tenure as president.