The Sunday Leader

Mixed Signals On Hybrid And Local Mechanism

By AshanthiWarunasuriya

The United Nations Organization (UN) recently released a report on the alleged human rights violations allegedly have taken place during the final phases of the war in Sri Lanka. The report recommends that the responsible parties should be taken before a hybrid court.

Even though the report was scheduled to be released in March this year, it was postponed till the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) September session upon requests made by the Sri Lanka’s government. Meantime, by executing the government’s agenda of reforms in the local arena, they were able to take many progressive steps to rebuild the country’s tattered relationships with the international community. Implementation of 19th Amendment is one of them.

Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe, meanwhile, making a statement in parliament recently claimed that a resolution was passed on Sri Lanka in Geneva. While making his statement, he said that the Geneva proposals would be executed under the laws of Sri Lanka and that a special office would be established to take the war crimes and other human rights violations on trial before a domestic court. He further said that the support of domestic, Commonwealth, and foreign legal professionals would be sought under the local judiciary approval in this regard.

However, the government has not yet accepted the proposed hybrid court. Speaking at the recently held parliamentary session, Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government is planning to bring forward a resolution favourable to Sri Lanka with the United States of America and other allies. The Premier also said the resolution would be in favour of a domestic mechanism and that the content of the US backed resolution would be revealed at the next parliamentary session.

Assuring that the new government will not repeat the same mistakes done by its predecessor, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe stated that his government intend to arrive at a solution through negotiating with all stakeholders. He further said no answer could be found to the national issue by igniting racism and religious fundamentalism. The government is committed to protect the people and all the generations to come by finding an agreeable solution to everyone, he said.

However, despite the Premier’s assurance, many people find disadvantages if a hybrid court is implemented as recommended by the report.

However, as the government is forwarding facts on the country’s behalf at the UN Human Rights Council, local political parties express varied views on the issue. The following are some of their views.




President’s Counsel and Government MP Jayampathi Wickramaratne

A domestic mechanism is set up under domestic laws. But an international mechanism is established under the UN Security Council and according to the international conventions in this regard. For examples, we can take the International Criminal Tribunal of Yugoslavia. Such courts have been  set up in other countries such as Rwanda and Sierra Lion too. In Cambodia, there is a hybrid court. The term hybrid means participation of both local and international lawyers and judges in the mechanism. In Cambodia, even though the mechanism has been named hybrid, it actually becomes hybrid in terms of the nature of the participants. Everything happens according to the law of Cambodia. Sri Lankan Supreme Court Judge Nihal Jayasinghe also participated in this Cambodian court. Our Constitution has allowed court to be set up any necessary court in the country. So this mechanism is also set up under this authority. 



Public Administration inister Ranjith Madduma Bandara

We will form the required mechanism by adhering to international standards. Therefore, justice would be served in a fair manner. In this type of procedure, we must work according to internationally accepted standards. So there will be personnel from international judiciaries and also from local courts in this mechanism. But everything would be done via a home-grown mechanism.




JHU Spokesperson Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe

The meaning of “hybrid court” is a mechanism set up to conduct an investigation with both local and international judges, lawyers, and relevant officials. These things have taken place in the past too. Whenever there is a need to investigate war crimes, assistance of experts in the field are sought. Witnesses may also come from foreign countries. This is the nature of a hybrid court. The Jathika Hela Urumaya is against such a move. We prefer an inquiry by a domestic court. This would preserve our sovereignty. Our independence and sovereignty are very important to us. If human rights violations, war crimes, or genocide have taken place in Sri Lanka, it must be looked into. But we oppose proposals made by the UNHRC to set up a hybrid court. This was our stance even when we were with the Rajapaksa government. Our foreign and other important national policies must not be changed. They must not vary according to interests of other countries.




Leader of the House and Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella

The hybrid court will be a domestic mechanism. No international judges in it. This is completely directed by our own people. Both prosecution and judges will be Sri Lankans. But everything will take place according to international standards. That does not mean, there will be international judges in it. For a person to testify, a suitable environment is needed. Otherwise, his evidence would have no value. During the past, many undue influences were on the judiciary. It is contrary to international standards. By following accepted international standards, we can avoid such lapses. It was Mahinda Rajapaksa who initially promised to go for a domestic inquiry. By making a joint declaration along with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, he promised to set up a domestic mechanism to inquire into the alleged war crimes. But even after three years, it did not happen. As a result, we have now been compelled to carry it out. However, everything would be carried out under a domestic mechanism. Under 19th amendment, foundation for an independent judiciary has been set up. The present government has also taken steps to implement independent commissions.



Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera

Even though the proposal for a hybrid court has been made, still an agreement on this has not been reached. We have faith in our judiciary. We respect the independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka. Despite criticisms, we are trying to conduct this investigation through a domestic tribunal. However, at present we have been able to minimise the threats posed by the international community in the past thanks to the present government. So there is no fear of an electric chair. At present, the whole world has come forward to assist us. This is a favorable situation. Especially, the USA, which was once our main opponent, has extending its support to us now. So, we do not have to fear of any economic sanction. The government has not yet accepted any USA backed proposal. We will decide what to do in the future.





JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath

During a war time, human rights violations are unavoidable. But the continued violation of human rights after the end of a war can not be justified. This is not the first document submitted by the UNHRC on Sri Lanka’s human rights status. But there is a clear difference between the latest and its predecessors. The new resolution has recommended set up of a hybrid court to inquire into the alleged human rights violations as well as to seek the assistance of international lawyers in the effort.

We do not tolerate such international interventions. According to the Sri Lankan law, foreign lawyers and other professionals cannot interfere in our judicial proceedings. In other countries, such international interventions had been taken place. Countries like Fiji Islands and Nigeria have invited foreign judges to take part in their judicial activities because of the lack of competent local judges. Several Sri Lankan judges have also served in such countries. But under the Sri Lankan Constitution, taking such measures are not allowed in Sri Lanka. The government is responsible to do justice to those who have suffered from human rights violations. So, it is up to the government to set up a trustworthy domestic mechanism.


UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara

The term Hybrid means a “mixed up system”. In a hybrid system, there are always two parties. So in this case, it is a human rights commission where both parties have joined and mixed up. Even though there is local presence in the tribunal, the real power is with the West. This is similar to the present government’s conduct of carrying out the government with the help of the SLFP, but still keeping all the important portfolios to government. We cannot survive with such mechanisms. They claim that this is going to be a domestic mechanism and advices sought from foreign countries only for technical purposes. But in reality, what happens is carrying out the agenda of the international Human Right Commission by using the domestic term as a cover. Now they ask us not to call this “hybrid”. This is a clear betrayal of national interests. This only gives reconciliation to the USA and the Tamil diaspora. The HR Commission is laying the foundation to achieve this goal. This is like a cat’s paw. This is nothing but to be slaves to the US will.



UNP MP M. Rahman

The recommended mechanism would be set up with local and foreign judges.
However, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has clearly elaborated that he favours a domestic mechanism.
It was Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime that agreed first to form this mechanism. Since they failed, the present government is being compelled to carry out this task.
No international interference in this hybrid process.
This is a domestic mechanism. We seek international community assistance only for its technical purposes.

UPFA MP Wimal Weerawansa

After levelling at us various allegations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has now recommended a mixed court.

But this is not going to be a mixed court. Foreign judges, prosecutors, investigators, technical officers, and lawyers are included in this court.

This would entirely be directed according to their whims and fancies. The court is funded by them. This is entirely a branch of the International Criminal Court. Even though the court may be set up in Sri Lanka, its conduct would entirely be directed by the will of the UNHRC. Despite political party differences, the citizens must rise up against this move. We are now enlightening the public in this regard.



UPFA MP Udaya Gammanpila

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has recommended a hybrid court comprising foreign judges, prosecutors, and investigators in Sri Lanka. This is a clear insult to Sri Lankan judges, the Attorney General, and the Police. In reality, this is only an international court clad in domestic attires.

By ordering such a court, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is trying to show his allies’ might and warn countries such as India who had objected previous international attempts to set up similar tribunals in their countries. By admiring this fraudulent action of the UNHR high Commissioner, Minister Mangala Samaraweera has shown that the government has already accepted this plan.

We objected this move, and as a result, now the PM has changed his stance.  Now he favours a domestic mechanism. The people must stay awake. Otherwise, the PM may continue with the international tribunal under the guise of a domestic probe.



Democratic Party Leader Sarath Fonseka

If there are allegations against us, the government must conduct a fair investigation in Sri Lanka.

I would reject some of the facts this report mentions.

But if proper evidence is available, there is nothing wrong with conducting an investigation.

If it has been agreed to hold a domestic inquiry, this time would be a good opportunity to act straight. So I see no fault in that procedure.





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