CTFRM’s final report and Mullaitivu Judge’s order

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2017-01-07

By Manekshaw

Mullaitivu District Judge M.S.M. Samsudeen has ordered the Sri Lanka Army to submit the complete list of names of the LTTE cadres who surrendered at the end of civil war in 2009 in Vanni.

The Mullaitivu District Judge delivered the order on Wednesday (4) to Major General S. Gunawardene who was present at Court when the habeas corpus cases filed by the family members of the surrendered LTTE cadres were taken up for hearing.
Nearly 400 LTTE cadres had surrendered to the Army when an announcement was made during the final phase of the war that the LTTE cadres who surrender along with those who had links with them would not be harmed.

Northern Provincial Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan's husband Sasitharan alias Elilan, who was a senior LTTE cadre, was among those 400 LTTE men surrendered to the Army at the final phase of the civil war in Vanni.

Ananthy Sasitharan along with other family members had seen 400 LTTE cadres being taken in special buses. Therefore, in the habeas corpus case, all of them remain as strong eyewitnesses. Hence, the Mullaitivu District Judge has ordered Maj. Gen. Gunawardene to submit the complete list of those who surrendered to the Army, by 30 January.

As the mysterious disappearance of nearly 400 LTTE cadres who had surrendered to the Army remains as one of the major alleged war crimes believed to have been committed during the final phase of the civil war, Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance Leader R. Sampanthan has reiterated that the civilians directly affected by war needed an international judicial mechanism to investigate the alleged war crimes when he was addressing an event to release the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanism (CTFRM) report at the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday (3).
From the time building up a healthy support in the North and East to establish the present National Unity Government,

Sampanthan remains committed towards stabilizing peace and reconciliation in the country.

However, the Tamil National Alliance Leader also remains very firm in his stance that an international judicial mechanism is the only viable solution in seeking justice over alleged war crimes and human rights violations believed to have been committed during the last phase of the civil war.

The Leader of the Opposition in his address at the Presidential Secretariat also clearly said that as far as the alleged war crimes and human rights violations were concerned, legal action should be taken against those who were responsible for directing the military operations and conducting the military operations by giving orders over the alleged war crimes.

In the meantime, the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms in its report submitted on Tuesday has recommended that the proposed Judicial Mechanism to probe war crimes cases have at least one foreign judge in every bench. But, it made it a point to add that the majority of the judges will be Sri Lankan.

The CTFRM has stated that its recommendations remain in line with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution of 2015, which Sri Lanka co-sponsored.

It said that the Special Court or Judicial Mechanism should have its own investigating team which should exclude personnel of the Sri Lankan Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) to avoid pre-judging of issues.
The carefully worded CTFRM report has touched on the very sensitive issues such as the participation of the foreign Judges and their criteria with regard to the investigation into the alleged war crimes.
The intention of releasing of the CTFRM report at the beginning of the New Year is very clear as it focused on two aspects.

The one intention is to satisfy the war victims that something is happening in their best interest to seek justice for their grievances and the second intention is to be in the good books of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is expected to release its comprehensive report during its 34th session in Geneva in March this year on its findings because Sri Lanka co-sponsored the UNHRC resolution in 2015.

With Sampanthan mentioning at the event to release the CTFRM report, about President Maithripala Sirisena's recent statement on rejecting an international tribunal to investigate the alleged war crimes, Minister of Health and the Cabinet Spokesperson
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has also clearly stated soon after the releasing of the CTFRM report that there was no room for foreign Judges to participate in a judicial mechanism to probe alleged war crimes.

However, the Mullaitivu District Judge's order to the Sri Lanka Army to produce the complete list of names of the persons surrendered at the end of the war clearly indicates the necessity of an extensive investigation into the alleged war crimes. The latest CTFRM report, after an extensive study made around the country, has emphasized on establishing an early judicial mechanism to seek justice for those who lost their family members in the war.

As the TNA and its emerging rival body Tamil People's Council (TPC) are firm on calling for an international judicial mechanism to investigate the alleged war crimes, the Joint Opposition is expected to remain firm on creating obstacles to any form of implementation of the CTFRM report.

On the other hand, with the UNHRC's comprehensive report to be released on Sri Lanka at its 34th session in March this year, it is too early to say how the National Unity Government will respond to the challenges it's faced with.

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