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International Commission of Jurists call on Sri Lanka to reject ‘impunity resolution’

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has called on Sri Lanka to reject a proposed resolution that seeks to stop trials against military and high-ranking government officials accused of war crimes and corruption.

“Parliament should categorically reject this ‘impunity resolution’ that interferes with the ongoing work of the judiciary and the Attorney General’s office in their efforts to provide for at least a modicum of accountability for serious violations,” said Ian Seiderman, ICJ’s Legal and Policy Director.

The resolution, which requires parliamentary approval, follows the publication of Sri Lanka’s so-called Commission of Inquiry on Political Victimization (COI) which was presented to Sri Lanka’s President last December. The ICJ notes that the COI has been widely discredited as “an affront to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law”, with its report being unavailable to the public.

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The report calls for a withdrawal of investigations and to overturn convictions of those engaged in serious human rights violations as well as those accused of corruption who have close ties to the Rajapaksa family. Examples of these cases include:

“the abductions of 11 Tamils by members of the Navy including Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda; unlawful killings of Tamil National Alliance MP Nadaraja Raviraj, Wasim Thajudeen, Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, Tamil National Alliance MP Joseph Pararajasingam; the alleged enforced disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda; and the abduction of Editor Keith Noayhr”.

The COI further calls for the prosecution of investigators, lawyers and prosecutors involved in those cases for allegedly engaging in the “fabrication” of evidence and corruption. Seiderman slams this proposal stating:

“Recommending that action be taken against lawyers and prosecutors for carrying out their professional and statutory duties is an all-out assault on a free and independent bar and this recommendation must be summarily rejected,” Seiderman said.

He further notes that this would violate the principle of separations of powers as it would “constitute an interference with the independent functioning of the judiciary as judicial decisions and court proceedings have been reassessed outside the judicial structure”.

Read the full statement here.

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