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'Only one way to shield Gotabhaya from war crimes prosecution' - Ryan Goodman

Sri Lanka’s former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa would only be safe from war crimes prosecution by the United States under one condition, writes Ryan Goodman – if the Sri Lankan government were to prosecute him for war crimes themselves.

Mr Goodman, Professor of Law and Co-Chair of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law, cited Sri Lanka’s “long-standing extradition agreement” with the United States which obligates Sri Lanka to extradite “persons sought by the authorities of the [United States] for trial or punishment for an extraditable offence.”

“Sri Lanka has already formally agreed to give the United States access to criminal suspects in such cases,” says Goodman.

Acknowledging Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister for Mustice Sujeewa Senasinghe’s comments that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is safe from prosecution “as long as he stays within the jurisdiction of Sri Lanka", Goodman further adds “the Deputy Minister may well recognize that the obligation to extradite would loom over the case”.

Only a Sri Lankan investigation with "a full-blown and genuine trial, and nothing short of it" would be able to prevent extradition if the US authorities were to pursue war crimes charges. However with Sri Lanka currently not taking any steps towards prosecution, Rajapaksa remains at risk says Goodman.

“As things stand, he cannot fly with ease to London for a weekend, an important conference, or a relative’s graduation—who knows whether a sealed US indictment may already be out there, in which case he could be apprehended at Heathrow and extradited to the United States.”

See his full piece here.

Also see our earlier posts:

‘Legal Avenues to Prosecute a US Citizen for War Crimes—The Case of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’ (02 Aug 2014)

US should push prosecution of individuals in Sri Lanka - Congressional Caucus hears (18 Jul 2014)

Sri Lanka’s Greatest War Criminal (Gotabaya) is a US Citizen: It’s Time to Hold Him Accountable (21 May 2014)

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