'Foreign Judges Will Participate: But Not Hear Cases' - Govt Explains Position On Hybrid Court

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva indicated that foreign judges would participate in Sri Lanka's accountability process, but not hear cases. 

"I think it's best I try and clear the confusion. What the 2015 resolution 30/1 says in terms of foreign and commonwealth involvement is that there should be 'participation' of inter alia foreign and commonwealth judges and within a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism," de Silva said, in a statement, a short while ago. 

"Participation has multiple definitions. What certain sections are trying to say is that 'participation' means a 'hybrid court' that consists of foreign judges sitting on the bench hearing cases. By misleading the public in to equating 'participation' to 'hybrid' some Sinhala groups claim Government sold out and some Tamil groups claim the Government gave in," he added. 

The Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, who is currently in Geneva, also said, "What the President and the Prime Minister and also the Foreign Minister have said is that is NOT the case. There won't any hybrid court for several reasons but, from a legal and technical perspective, because Sri Lanka constitution does not allow foreign judges to sit in judgment; in other words 'participation' cannot mean 'hybrid'. Surely it is not something that difficult to understand."

"It is in this context the word 'participation' takes shape. It can mean 'expertise' or 'observation' or any such other but NOT hearing cases."

"During MR time as well there were instances including where Indian Chief Justice Bhagwati also was involved in both 'expertise' and 'observation'. There are several other examples including Durusman former Attorney General of Indonesia."

"So it is only to mislead the people that certain elements will use the word 'participation' to mean 'sitting in judgement' in a 'hybrid court' to suit their narrow political agendas. I urge the public not to be mislead."

"Plus there are many other more important things than this. A compassionate council on a truth mechanism might be something that can deal with all these issues instead of courts. The missing persons office has already been legislated. Handing back private land is continuing. All these are what we should focus on."

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