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Alleged war criminal's appointment confirms lack of will for justice - Adayaalam, PEARL

The appointment of the alleged war criminal, Major General Shavendra Silva as Sri Lanka's new Chief of Staff confirms the government's "lack of political will to address accountability and justice", the Jaffna based research group, Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research, and the Washington based group, People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL), noted in a joint statement.

"Silva’s appointment is indicative of a deep-rooted lack of political will on the part of the Sri Lankan government to pursue accountability and justice. Sri Lanka has rejected all calls for accountability since the end of the armed conflict in 2009. Although the so-called “unity-government” elected four years ago pledged to embark on a path to national cohesion, including by addressing impunity for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, at the highest levels, the President, Prime Minister and senior ministers consistently vow to protect the security forces from any scrutiny," the joint statement, published today, noted. 

"Meanwhile, over the last four years, the international community has prematurely rewarded Sri Lanka for superficial actions and broken promises. Such rewards have included the EU’s granting of GSP+ trade concessions and increased military and police cooperation by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India and other allies. This has emboldened Sri Lanka to continue to flout its commitments, and undermine pledges under the UNHRC Resolution 30/1, which included security sector reform and accountability. 

The calls for Sri Lanka to act against alleged war criminals are futile without concurrent action by the international community. We call on the international community to:

  • Revisit the OISL report’s recommendations in light of the lack of any serious progress on UNHRC Resolution 30/1 and initiate suitable processes for international judicial accountability;
  • Exercise universal jurisdiction to investigate, charge and prosecute Sri Lankan war criminals such as Silva, to send a clear message that impunity won’t be tolerated;
  • Place travel bans on those credibly accused of war crimes including Silva; and
  • Halt all military/police cooperation until accountability for war crimes has been guaranteed."

Read full statement here