Domestic mechanism would be hijacked by foreigners – Sinhala daily

The Sinhala owned daily The Island has warned that Sri Lanka’s domestic probe mechanism would be hijacked by foreign judges, prosecutors and lawyers if they are appointed as envisaged in the US draft resolution.

In its editorial on Friday, the Sinhala daily also claimed that the US resolution has called for the creation of a hybrid court without using the adjective ‘hybrid’.

Produced below is the full text of the editorial:

‘Trojan Horse’s Belly

The draft resolution on Sri Lanka has been tabled at the UNHRC. The US, the UK, Macedonia and Montenegro have jointly moved it. Some government politicians here have claimed that they have succeeded in having the initial resolution watered down. They are cock-a-hoop because the resolution says it reaffirms its ‘commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka’.

True, the draft resolution praises the new government which is in the good books of the western governments antagonised by the Rajapaksa administration. After all, diplomacy consists in camouflage among other things. The resolution notes ‘with appreciation’ several steps taken by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe dispensation to improve the human rights situation and bring about national reconciliation. These diplomatic frills attached to the document are for the Sir Lankan government to market domestically. It can now brag that it has repaired the country’s image internationally.

But, a closer look at the draft resolution, available to the media, reveals that in spite of being tweaked here and there its sting remains intact. What is of crucial import is this section hidden in a diplomatic rigmarole: the resolution says, [it] ‘affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for integrity and impartiality; and further affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the Special Counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers, and authorised prosecutors and investigators’. This section may be considered an affront to the Sri Lankan judicial system. For, its implication is that Sri Lanka is without ‘independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for integrity and impartiality’.

Thus, it may be seen that the US-sponsored resolution basically retains the key elements of the UNHRC chief’s report and reiterates the need for a de facto international investigation. It is calling for the setting up of a hybrid court without the adjective, ‘hybrid’! Can any investigation conducted with foreign judges, defence lawyers, prosecutors and investigators be called ‘domestic’ by any stretch of the imagination? It may be recalled that the Rajapaksa government regretted having involved some eminent persons in one of its presidential inquiries. Now, there will be foreign judges!

Foreign judges, lawyers and prosecutors will definitely hijack the court to be set up with their servile Sri Lankan counterparts giving in meekly. One should not lose sight of the fact that the western powers manipulated the Iraqi justice dispensation system to have Saddam Hussein hanged. It is said that Sri Lanka’s judicial process lacks credibility, but the Iraqi High Tribunal which sentenced Hussein to death was far from credible and its judges had been handpicked to legitimise the execution of the dictator. They betrayed their prejudices while the trial was on.

The government will have a hard time trying to mitigate the political fallout of the Geneva resolution with local government elections on the horizon. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already fired a salvo and the opponents of the proposed war crimes investigation are sure to adopt his line of reasoning. The resolution will be a godsend for the JVP, which, caught up in a political vortex, is looking for something to clutch at. It has also rejected the UNHRC report lock, stock and barrel and will oppose attempts to establish a tribunal with the participation of foreign judges et al.

Meanwhile, nobody would have been able to ask whether the US and the UK had any moral right to address human rights issues in other countries if the Chilcot report on the Iraqi war had been released. It is believed that the publication of the report has been delayed at the behest of the US. Charity begins at home—not Geneva!’