There are strong indications that both Sri Lanka government forces and Tamil rebels committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the civil war, the UN human rights office found Wednesday in a report.
The Geneva-based office recommended that a “hybrid special court” should address these crimes, by including international judges and prosecutors.
“A purely domestic court procedure will have no chance of overcoming widespread and justifiable suspicions fuelled by decades of violations, malpractice and broken promises,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights.
The 26-year civil war ended when government troops defeated Tamil separatist rebels in May 2009, but the UN report said serious violations took place in the entire period from 2002 to 2011 which it was tasked to investigate under a mandate of the UN Human Rights Council.
“Our investigation has laid bare the horrific level of violations and abuses that occurred in Sri Lanka, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, harrowing accounts of torture and sexual violence, recruitment of children and other grave crimes,” Zeid said.
He commended the new national unity government of President Maithripala Sirisena for pursuing accountability for these crimes through a domestic process, but pointed out that “that Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system is not yet ready.”