SRI LANKA UN accuses Sri Lanka of war crimes

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is calling for sanctions against Sri Lanka for its failure to identify those responsible for the deaths of 40,000 civilians during the 1983-2009 civil war. The Sri Lankan government fears the arrest of a suspect near London could lead to the detention of current military officers and government officials.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – For the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, international sanctions and prosecutions against war criminals are necessary in Sri Lanka, because the Sri Lankan authorities have repeatedly failed to secure accountability for wartime atrocities committed during the country’s 25-year civil war. , which ended in 2009.

According to Bachelet, the island nation drifted towards “militarization” after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a former lieutenant colonel, took over as president in 2019.

She expressed her displeasure with the militarization of civilian government functions, including in law enforcement, as military officers subject to allegations are placed in high positions in government administration.

The high commissioner also noted that many military checkpoints remain in place in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, which is predominantly inhabited by Tamils, pointing out that there are “complaints of discriminatory treatment or harassment. .especially women”.

For this reason, she urged the UN Human Rights Council to invoke universal jurisdiction to prosecute Sri Lankan officials facing credible allegations of war crimes.

Ms. Bachelet called on Member States to “explore the possibility of targeted sanctions against credible alleged perpetrators of serious human rights violations and abuses” in Sri Lanka.

“Over the past two years, the independence of the judiciary…and other key institutions have been eroded, and democratic space, including for the defense of human rights, has shrunk” , said the UN human rights chief.

The failure of the current Sri Lankan government to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in the country, including its policies and actions aimed at reversing the limited progress made, raises serious concerns about the likelihood of justice for victims of human rights violations.

Based on information contained in a report to be unveiled examining Sri Lanka’s record, Bachelet noted that Sri Lankan authorities had abandoned investigations into “emblematic cases”, refusing to put in place a mechanism for the UN to preserve evidence, following allegations that Sri Lankan troops killed around 40,000 civilians during the final stages of the war.

The request came a day after a 48-year-old suspect was arrested in Northamptonshire (UK) in connection with the 2000 murder of Tamil journalist Mylvaganam Nimalrajan, a prominent journalist in Jaffna, the main city in the north of Sri Lanka. heart.

Sri Lankan authorities fear that the arrest of the anonymous suspect could set a precedent for the detention of military officers or government officials in the current government.

Jayanath Colombage, permanent secretary of Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry, told Sri Lankan media (ahead of the publication of a draft of Bachelet’s report) that the British action could have repercussions for office holders current.

For him, “the invocation of universal jurisdiction is another very debatable subject” and “any country can use it as an excuse to target people from another country”, describing it as “a very great danger “.

Several Western countries have imposed travel bans on Sri Lankan military officials, including current army commander Shavendra Silva.

According to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner on Sri Lanka published on February 25, 2022, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka is appalling, despite government claims that there is an improvement.

It includes charges against the government for discriminating against religious and ethnic minorities as well as targeting civil society groups by security forces.

Bachelet points out that in addition to Tamils ​​and Muslims, Christians also face abuse and discrimination, including in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, when a militant Islamist group took over targets churches and hotels, killing more than 260 people.

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