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No place for politics in crimes against humanity

“Last week Attorney-General Robert McClelland halted the possibility of the arrest and charging of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and in my view undermined similar ''citizens arrests'' of individuals against whom it could be said there is a prima facie case of crimes against humanity.”

"McClelland took less than 24 hours to refuse to allow charges to be filed against Rajapaksa despite the fact that the person laying the charges was Jegan Waran, a 63-year-old man who claimed to have direct evidence of war crimes being committed against the Tamil people during the country's recent civil war."

"McClelland says that Rajapaksa has diplomatic immunity. We don't know whether there were other reasons but Australia does have an important relationship with Sri Lanka, on whom it depends for co-operation to stop asylum seekers leaving that country. That relationship may have had some impact on the decision."

"The prosecution of crimes against humanity, however, should never be subjected to a political interest test."

- Greg Barns, National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald. See the full text here.