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International human rights groups urge UN to act on Silva

Ten international human rights organisations have urged the UN to suspend the diplomatic credentials of Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN and former army commander, Shavendra Silva, following the overwhelming evidence of war crimes made against him.

The organisations consist of SPEAK Human Rights and Environmental Initiative, UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at American University Washington College of Law, Center for Constitutional Rights, Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, Human Rights USA, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, TRIAL, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, Society for Threatened Peoples

Writing in a joint letter to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, the ten organisations said,

Overwhelming evidence showing that the Government of Sri Lanka perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity compels the suspension of General Silva’s credentials,”

“Permitting General Silva to retain his credentials would send a message to lawbreaking governments around the world that the United Nations will not defend the cause of justice and that it will shelter war criminals and perpetrators of mass atrocities.”

"Sri Lanka should not be rewarded with unlimited immunity for war crimes for militarizing its diplomatic positions.

"I urge you to encourage the Credentials Committee to recommend to the General Assembly that General Silva’s credentials be suspended, and thereby ensure that the victims of torture and war crimes have their day in court."

Silva is facing a lawsuit in a New York federal court for war crimes, including torture, extrajudicial killing and the intentional shelling of civilians during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict.

On Tuesday, attorneys filed a response to the Sri Lankan General, Shavendra Silva’s motion to dismiss the war crimes indictment made against him arguing diplomatic immunity.

The lead counsel in the lawsuit against Silva, Ali Beydoun, who is also, director at American University Washington College of Law’s UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic and a Senior Partner at SPEAK Human Rights & Environmental Initiative said,

The United Nations has a war criminal within its ranks. This is a moral and legal offense,”

"Silva should not be allowed to manipulate diplomatic immunity to use it as a shield for his crimes.

“As the largest international body protecting peace and justice, the United Nations has a duty to allow a full investigation into General Silva’s war crimes.

 

See related articles:

Growing calls for prosecution of Sri Lankan envoy to Australia (Oct 2011)

Lawsuit filed against Shavendra Silva in US (Sep 2011)