Sri Lanka’s opposition for referendum on hybrid court

Colombo, Oct 22 (IANS) The opposition on Thursday called for a referendum on a hybrid court proposed for Sri Lanka by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Al Hussein had called for a hybrid court with local and foreign judges to look into accountability issues over the final stages of the war between the Tamil Tigers and the military.

Opposition leader Wimal Weerawansa said the government cannot blindly agree to set up the hybrid court, reports Xinhua news agency.

He said that since the government was elected by the public, people should be allowed to decide if they want such a hybrid court to look into accountability issues.

Weerawansa was speaking in parliament during a debate on the report as well as two other human rights reports.

He also accused the government of submitting to international pressure on the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), a controversial anti-terror law.

He said the government must not abolish the PTA but make suitable amendments if required.

Weerawansa also said that Sri Lanka was not legally bound to implement the resolution on the country adopted by the UN Human Rights Council earlier this month.

The Illangai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), a minority Tamil political party, however commended the government for co-sponsoring the resolution and urged the government to fully implement it.

ITAK MP Mavai Senathirajah said the resolution does not mention a hybrid court but a judicial system with international assistance.

Senathirajah also warned that if people push Sri Lanka to be a “Sinhalese, Buddhist” country, it would eventually lead to Tamils pushing for a separate state.

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