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Sri Lanka panel backs hybrid courts for investigation of war crimes

[JURIST] A Sri Lankan panel of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms [official website] has recommended [press release] the appointment of a hybrid court composed of local and international judges to oversee the adjudication of allegations of war crimes committed during the nation's civil war. The international presence on the court will be phased out once trust between the court and the public is re-established. In 2015 the UN Human Right Commissioner urged Sri Lanka [JURIST report] to create this type of hybrid court, including the utilization of international prosecutors and investigators.

The global community has been calling on the Sri Lankan government to create more accountability, most recently since the end of the Sri Lankan civil war. Late last year, the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye urged the Sri Lankan government to better protect minorities [JURIST report]. The UN released a report in 2015 finding that war crimes may have been committed [JURIST report] during the war. Later in 2015 the President of Sri Lanka rejected [JURIST report] a UN recommendation for international involvement in its domestic investigation of the war crimes. The UN report came amid mounting pressure on the Sri Lankan government from human rights groups and the international community to investigate and prosecute abuses during the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In 2014 then-US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp called on Sri Lanka to investigate rights abuses [JURIST report] by security forces during the civil war. In 2013 then UK Prime Minister David Cameron demanded [JURIST report] that the Sri Lankan government conduct its own investigation into war crime allegations. Earlier that year, then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on [JURIST report] Sri Lanka to improve its human rights record.

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