Human Rights Council: Don’t Fail the Victims, Support a Hybrid Court for Sri Lanka

(Geneva, Paris) The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) should seize the opportunity to make a decisive contribution to justice and accountability in Sri Lanka by supporting the creation of a hybrid judicial mechanism to try those most responsible for the serious crimes committed from 2002-2011. Failing to take up this core recommendation by the Office of the UN High Commissionner for Human Rights (OHCHR) following its investigation on Sri Lanka would amount to failing the victims of these crimes.

Such a hybrid court would be essential for victims who have long lost confidence in their own justice system”, said Karim Lahidji, president of FIDH. “It is the only way to ensure accountability for the international crimes committed in Sri Lanka and redress for the victims. They won’t obtain justice through purely domestic courts”, he added.

This hybrid court should be composed of national and international judges, as well as an international prosecutor, and provide for robust victims’ participation and witness protection mechanisms.

There are reasonable grounds to believe that serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law were committed by all parties to the conflict in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011.The OHCHR report on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka highlights the widespread commission of unlawful killings, patterns of arbitrary arrests and abductions, enforced disappearances, widespread use of torture and rape and other forms of sexual violence against detainees, recruitment and use of child soldiers, among other crimes.

The report also concludes that “Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system is not yet ready” to conduct proper investigations and prosecutions, and therefore calls for the creation of a special hybrid court which would have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute all alleged authors of serious crimes during the entire period of conflict.

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