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UN responds to Rajitha


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Cabinet Spokesman’s remarks that UN envoy for human rights endorsed 

Govt. ‘no foreign judges’ stand denied by OHCHR

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) yesterday insisted that High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s position on a hybrid court to prosecute alleged war crimes during Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war remained unchanged.

The OHCHR took to Twitter yesterday to clarify what it called Zeid’s “unchanged” position, after Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne controversially proclaimed to reporters on Wednesday (4), that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had endorsed the Government’s position that foreign judges would not sit on a proposed war crimes tribunal.

“Zeid has always supported the creation of a hybrid court in Sri Lanka. See his unchanged position,” the OHCHR tweeted, pointing to a statement by the High Commissioner from September 2015 when he first announced the recommendation for a “mixed” court comprising foreign and local judges to hear alleged war crimes cases.

At the Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Minister Senaratne said that the Government’s position was that it would use only local judges on the special court, adding that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had endorsed this view on his visit to Sri Lanka last year. He said the Government would permit international jurists to lend expertise and technical assistance, but would not hear cases.

“When Hussein came here, he accepted it, and he agreed to this,” Senaratne claimed, even though no such statement had ever been made by the High Commissioner. (DB)

 


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