Sri Lanka’s military commanders who have been put in charge of the recent ramp up in security across the island pose “an enormous potential risk to rule of law”, said the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) in a joint dossier released last week.
The Sri Lankan military reported that 10,000 extra troops have been deployed as emergency rule was re-enacted, grating the security forces wide ranging powers of detention.
“Several of the army generals now in charge of deployments played a pivotal role as commanders in the final phase of the civil war in the north of the island when there were grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights,” says the dossier. It went on to add,
“Two are even named in the 2015 investigation report of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. One was in charge of the “rehabilitation programme” for Tamil suspected ex combatants, which the UN subsequently said constituted arbitrary detention. Two others were present as commanders in Haiti during the years when there was systematic child sexual exploitation by Sri Lankan peacekeepers there.”
Though the dossier only focuses on the eight military officers commanding troops on the streets, rather than the higher command structure "where there are also alleged war criminals still serving,” it adds.
The dossier concludes,
“Under UN Resolution 30/1, Sri Lanka promised to vet and also hold accountable security officials involved in the 2009 war. This never happened. Now the officers profiled in this dossier are entrusted with enormous power over civilians once again even though they were previously in command of operations that failed to protect civilians in the war zone, failed to protect vulnerable children for whom they had a duty of care and in one case oversaw the arbitrary detention of suspects held illegally.”
See the full text of the dossier and profile on the eight officers here.