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Freeing soldier convicted for massacre dashes hopes for accountability in Sri Lanka - The Hindu

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The Hindu said there has been “justified outrage” after a Sri Lankan soldier on death row, who had been convicted over the murder of Tamil civilians, was pardoned by Sri Lanka’s president.

“It hardly needs emphasis that the exercise of the power of pardon is an act of compassion, and not a tool for political or electoral messaging,” said The Hindu.

“However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has sent out a message to his vast body of supporters among the Sinhalese that he would not let ‘war heroes’ languish in prison, even if it means that the minority Tamils get a chilling message that substantive justice for war crimes will always elude them; and even when rendered, it could be undone with a stroke of the pen.

“Apart from some domestic voices from the Tamil leadership and individual politicians, the UN Human Rights High Commissioner and rights watchdog bodies have questioned the release of the soldier, rightly calling it an affront to the victims,” it added. “The pardon, granted at a time when the country’s focus is on fighting COVID-19, is a serious setback to hopes that accountability could be brought about in Sri Lanka through domestic mechanisms.

See the full text of the editorial here.