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Domestic accountability mechanism in Sri Lanka not sufficient says US senator

A domestic mechanism to deal with issues of accountability in Sri Lanka will not be sufficient, said a US Senator in a situational update on Sri Lanka.

US Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, stressing the importance of accountability for potential war crimes on Tuesday, said,

“For years, impunity for serious crimes has been the norm in Sri Lanka.  The government is working to establish what it describes as a “domestic mechanism” to deal with accountability for human rights violations.  A purely domestic mechanism, however, is not likely to be sufficient."

Stressing the need for a credible accountability process, which includes prosecutions, he added,

It is essential that the justice process is not only about truth telling, but is a credible, independent mechanism with authority to investigate, prosecute, and appropriately punish those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, on both sides. “

Calling for internationalised accountability mechanisms that were established by consulting families of the war victims, Mr Leahy added,

“A hybrid mechanism, with international experts involved at the prosecutorial and judicial level, will help ensure that the failings and cynicism associated with past domestic accountability mechanisms are not repeated.”

Noting that the land in the North-East was “occupied by armed forces” Mr Leahy said “it is time for the armed forces to return land.”

Mr Leahy also expressed concern over the Sri Lankan government's decisions to reinstate senior military officials who could be complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Commenting on the appointment of Jagath Dias as Sri Lanka's Army Chief of Staff, he said,

"If the Sri Lankan government is serious about addressing the crimes of the past it will need to take up allegations against senior officers like General Diaz.  Failing to address the role of senior military commanders, in particular those who still serve, would seriously weaken the government’s credibility."