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No immunity for Rajapaksa confirms Singapore

Singapore’s foreign minister said Sri Lanka’s fleeing former president has not been granted “any privileges, immunity or hospitality” by his government, as calls mount for the accused war criminal to be prosecuted for genocide.

Responding to a parliamentary question this week foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the Singaporean government “does not accord privileges, immunity and hospitality to former heads of state or heads of government”.

“Consequently, former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa was not accorded any privileges, immunity or hospitality,” he added.

Singapore’s home minister K Shanmugam stated that “foreigners who possess a valid travel document and meet entry requirements will be allowed to come into Singapore,” but admitted his government does “of course, reserve the right to deny entry to a foreigner if we assess that to be in our national interests”.

Shanmugam went on to add that his government would “render assistance” to foreign governments if wanted individuals entered Singapore.

“Nevertheless, if we are aware of the presence of undesirable persons, we may still check them and take appropriate actions,” he concluded.

Their comments as organisations across the world continued to call on Singaporean authorities to ensure Rajapaksa is held accountable for crimes committed under his tenure, particularly the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils in 2009.

Rajapaksa, who fled Sri Lanka last month, has been rumoured to look to return to the island with ministers confirming he was hoping to make a return.

However, Sri Lanka’s new president Ranil Wickremesinghe said "I don't believe it's the time for him to return," in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week. "I have no indication of him returning soon,” he added.

Rajapaksa is reportedly able to stay in Singapore until August 11.

Last week, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) filed a criminal complaint to Singapore's Attorney General, seeking Rajapaksa's "immediate arrest" for committing war crimes. A group of 17 Tamil and human rights organizations from across the world, alsoissued a joint letter urging Singapore’s Attorney-General's Chambers to investigate and prosecute Rajapaksa for his involvement in international crimes during the culmination of the Tamil Genocide in 2009. 

British lawmaker and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, Elliot Colburn wrote to the Attorney General of Singapore yesterday, calling on the country’s authorities to arrest former Sri Lankan president.

“I urge you on behalf of UK parliamentarians to take immediate action to arrest Mr Rajapakse, seize his passport, and launch an investigation into the credible allegations against him.” 

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