Human Rights Watch has released a statement condemning the presidential pardon of former Sgt. Sunil Ratnayake, who was convicted for massacring 8 Tamil civilians including children.
Read more here: Sri Lanka frees soldier imprisoned over massacre of Tamils
HRW notes that the conviction of Ratnayake was “one of the very few cases of security force personnel being criminally punished for civil war-era atrocities, despite the huge number of credible and extremely serious allegations”.
Speaking on the matter, Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director, stated;
“The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government couldn’t make it any plainer to victims and their families that it opposes any form of justice for even the worst atrocities […] Concerned governments need to take the government’s own message on board and respond appropriately to uphold basic human rights protections and prohibitions on war crimes.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, similarly stated;
“The Presidential pardon is an affront to victims and yet another example of the failure of Sri Lanka to fulfil its international human rights obligations to provide meaningful accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other gross violations of human rights […] Pardoning one of the sole convicted perpetrators of atrocities committed during the Sri Lankan conflict further undermines the limited progress the country has made towards ending impunity for mass human rights abuse.”
HRW further noted that Rajapaksa came to power on the promise of releasing “war heroes” and since being appointed has accused war criminals to head government departments.
Ganguly further maintained the importance of delivering aid justice for victims and the need for an international justice mechanism in Sri Lanka.
Read HRW’s full statement here.