Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sri Lanka government begging for UN action against war crime charges agaisnt officials


(December 23, Colombo - Lanka Polity) In a very extraordinary move, Sri Lanka government is anticipating harsh action from the United Nations against the state heads. officials and Army even before the UN has considered such a move.

Government leaders campaigning for the re-election of the President Mahinda Rajapakse in the presidential scheduled to be held on January 26 is trying to seek political mileage from a detrimental statement made and later denied by the opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka at the cost of the future of the politicians, officials and soldiers. It is actually begging for action from UN even before replying to the letter of the UN seeking a clarification.

Former Sri Lankan Navy Commander Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, who is now the presidential adviser on national security, has warned that the recent allegations raised by presidential candidate and former Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka could affect the opportunity for Sri Lankan troops to be selected for UN peace keeping operations in Haiti and for overseas training, reported Daily Mirror newspaper.

Speaking on State television Karannagoda, who was known to be at serious rift with Fonseka when both were serving as chiefs of their respective forces, said that the allegations raised by Fonseka, though false, could open the doors for a fresh bid by the international community to level war crimes charges against the Sri Lankan military.

Sri Lanka state-owned Sinhala daily Dinamina said today quoting government leaders that the Army 58 division of which the ex-commander was ordered by Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse to kill the leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) was also facing a 'risk'. However, the newspaper did not describe the risk factor.

Karannagoda said to Dinamina newspaper that Sri Lanka would have to face a war crime trial and cited that the leaders of Bosnia were punished similarly by international war crime tribunal.

Sri Lankan law professor and Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris told a news briefing at the Mahaweli Centre yesterday that UN special Rapporteur Philippe Alston’s letter to Sri Lanka’s ambassador Kshenuka Seneviratne seeking an explanation on the highly damaging charges against Sri Lanka put the nation on the level of a pariah state that has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity that should be meted out strict punishments.

“It is clear that the detractors of Sri Lanka want to take the country before an International Tribunal like the Nuremburg Trials that tried Nazi leader Adolph Hitler and his accomplices for their war crimes during World War II. This will result in any Army, Navy or Air Force personnel being arrested in Europe, US, Canada or even in Japan for war crimes,” Prof. Peiris stressed.


Prof. Peiris said the other danger was that any US or European court could pass an order against Sri Lankan leaders and armed forces personnel and issue a warrant for arrest on charges of ‘Crime against Humanity’ in a similar manner they arrested late Chili strongman Augusto Pinochet.

There was a warrant against General Pinochet by a Spanish Court on charges of extrajudicial killings committed during his regime as the President which had also been adopted by England. He was arrested when he arrived in England for medical treatment and languished in jail for more than 4 1/2 years.

There is a direct threat against President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Commander in Chief, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the then Brigade Commander of the 58th  Brigade Major General Shavendra Silva and all members of the 58th Brigade according to the charges levelled against them by General Fonseka, he said.


Responding to a question raised by a journalist as to what would happen if Sri Lanka refused to give an explanation to the UN special Rapporteur, Prof. Peiris said it was obligatory for Sri Lanka to explain as she is a member of the UN.

“We are bound to explain or they will accept it as an acceptance of the charges if not. Besides, the Security Council and the EU may pass resolutions against Sri Lanka if we did not respond positively. The government is doing its utmost to minimize the damage caused. A team of legal experts headed by Attorney General will look into the modalities in preparing the explanation,” he added.



No comments:

Post a Comment

White handkerchief marks protest against forcible cremation by the government of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil society is silently but strongly marking their protest against the government's inhuman  forcible  cremation of a 20-da...