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Sri Lanka's Consultation Task Force on reconciliation recommends international judges

Sri Lanka’s Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms has recommended international judges be involved in an accountability mechanism, after it released its long-awaited report on Tuesday. 

“The need for independence, capacity, competence and transparency underpins the call for international judges, prosecutors, investigators and other staff of the Judicial Mechanism,” said the executive summary of the report.

“The CTF recommends a hybrid Court with a majority of national judges as well as a sufficient number of international judges. This will ensure at least one international judge per bench and pre-empt delays due to the absence of one or more judges.”

Whilst the call for international involvement came “overwhelmingly” from Tamils, “there is support for or acceptance of foreign judges in the South, and in the North and East for acceptable and trustworthy individuals regardless of nationality, Tamil speaking judges and multi-ethnic representation,” the report continued.

It went on to recommend that “international crimes such as war crimes and crimes against humanity must be criminalised and incorporated into Sri Lankan law immediately”, whilst noting that amnesties for such crimes “are illegal and unacceptable”. “They should not be considered,” it added.

Amongst the other recommendations in the final report were the “expedited return of land held by the military, to the release of a list of all detainees and detention centres, the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the immediate release of persons held under the PTA without charge”.

The consultations themselves faced much difficulty, especially for participants in the North-East. “There were instances of surveillance and the intimidating presence of forces personnel,” said the report noting that there was at least one case of torture during the consultations themselves.

“The President and Prime Minister, engaging all stakeholders in an island-wide outreach programme must champion the roadmap on transitional justice and take overall responsibility for it,” the report stated.

However, both men were not present for the handing over of the report. Former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunge accepted the report instead.

Access the full text of the report and executive summary here.

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