The promotion of the accused war criminal Major General Jagath Dias to Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka's army is a major setback for peacebuilding on the island, a group of NGOs has charged, calling on the government to revoke the position.
The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and TRIAL (Track Impunity Always), condemned the promotion.
“The promotion of a suspected war criminal to the post of the Army Chief of Staff is a serious setback for the Sri Lankan process of reconciliation announced by President Maithripala Sirisena on taking office in January”, the NGOs said in a joint statement released on Wednesday.
"ECCHR, TRIAL and STP call on the Sri Lankan government to revoke the new position of Dias, to start a process towards an independent investigation, in line with international legal standards, into alleged crimes under international law in relation to all involved parties and to bring the suspected perpetrators to trial," the statement said.
See full statement here.
The major general was in command of the 57th division during the armed conflict against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He is suspected to be directly responsible and hold command responsibility for mass atrocities committed by his troops, especially during the final phase of the war.
He also served as Sri Lanka's ambassador to Germany and Switzerland, before he was recalled as pressure over his involvement in war crimes mounted. Sri Lanka denied at the time it recalled him due to the war crimes allegations.
In 2011, Switzerland's Federal Attorney General, said Mr Dias would face a criminal investigation if he were to re-enter Swiss territory for his "personal involvement" in the mass atrocities.
Mr Dias was last year refused entry into Australia over his role in the final stages of the armed conflict and allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
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