A top Slovenian judge has said an international probe into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka was likely to yield a more negative rather than a positive outcome and that it was much better for Sri Lanka to address accountability issues on its own and without foreign intervention.
“It is much better to do it on your own and shut the possibility for somebody far away to repeatedly keep raising an un-clarified case to cause problems,” Slovenia’s Constitutional Court President Ernest Petrič, said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mirror.
“Foreign interventions in the last decades have contributed less to the solution of problems and more to the problem itself. Therefore one should be extremely cautious when advocating foreign intervention,” Prof. Petrič said. “Any progress in the protection of human rights is lasting and effective when it is undertaken by the concerned country herself and that is why I am so supportive of your Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). By establishing the LLRC and producing the report, Sri Lanka has taken a good step in the right direction. It has shown the will to reconcile and to correct mistakes that may have taken place the past.”
He expressed the view that special circumstances of war should be taken into account when addressing human rights issues.
“In principle, the law, particularly international humanitarian law, should be respected but in a case where it is suspected that the law is not respected, you can take into consideration like in any case, in any court, the concrete circumstances of the real situation. Even in a murder case you have to look at the situation – maybe I was defending myself of maybe I was in a special relationship. Therefore all factors must be considered,” Prof. Petrič said. “If there are some accusations of wrong-doing, it is important to look at them carefully. If there have been wrong-doings, then accept responsibility, explain the circumstances which led to the situation, and take appropriate action. But if you put it under the carpet, it will recur in five or 10 years and keep causing trouble.”
Prof. Petrič, is a member of the International Law Commission and has served as Slovenia’s Ambassador to several countries such as the United States and India, pointed out that empathy is an important component of reconciliation.
“To understand the grievances of the one who has been defeated or may have been doing wrong is essential for reconciliation; a vision that it is our common country and that we have to live here together in the future. Sometimes it is necessary to display less triumphalism and show greater empathy,” he said and emphasised the need for smaller states in particular to play a more proactive role in the development of international law and use it for the benefit of their nations.
Prof. Ernest Petrič delivered a lecture on, “International Law as a Means for Foreign Policy” at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies last Friday. (Ayesha Zuhair)