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Potential genocidal crimes of SL are result of 'deliberate planning and policy decisions' - ICEP report

The International Crimes Evidence Project (ICEP) on Sri Lanka, carried out by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), concluded the Sri Lankan government was responsible for vast "crimes against humanity of persecution".

Highlighting the need for a truly independent and credible investigation, the report added that such crimes "constitute genocidal acts if the additional requisite elements for this crime are found to be present through further investigation".

An independent and comprehensive international investigation is needed into these alleged violations of international law. The absence of such investigation will also ensure the ongoing impunity of those on both sides of the conduct who have committed violations, thereby emboldening those who may continue to abuse the civilian population.”

There are also allegations of collusion and other acts by the Sri Lankan state, which inhibit accountability for wartime crimes and protect perpetrators.

This report describes command and control structures so well-established that criminal responsibility for certain crimes if proven at trial could lead to convictions of senior military commanders and Sri Lankan Government officials, as well as senior surviving members of the LTTE.

ICEP is in the process of collecting new evidentiary material. Early analysis suggests that the Sri Lankan Government may have sought systematically to exhume and destroy evidence of mass civilian deaths.

See here for key points of the report. Find full report here.

The report provides an in depth evidence based analysis of alleged attacks on civilians, denial of humanitarian assistance, extrajudicial killings, rape and sexual violence, torture and cruel treatment, enforced disappearances and post conflict violations committed by the Sri Lankan government.

“There are reasonable grounds to suspect that the incidents and patterns of incidents considered in this report are the result of deliberate planning and policy decisions,

“Some attacks.. could be evidence of a direct attack on civilians and as such could amount to the war crime of attacking civilians,

“The evidentiary material gathered by ICEP calls into question why the Sri Lankan Army selected these areas to be NFZs (No Fire Zones) given their proximity to the LTTE’s defence lines and existence of LTTE targets,

“Mortars and air-burst munitions, are indicative of a failure to program artillery fire control systems with the coordinates of these NFZ and therefore suggests an intention, or at least recklessness, regarding the actual target,

In an interview to the New York Times, William Schabas, one of the authors and a professor of international law at Middlesex University, said that the report was the first of its kind to focus on issues relevant to a criminal prosecution.

“What it demonstrates is there is clear evidence that a prosecutor can go on,” he told the paper.

The report further said that the structure of the Sri Lankan Army was so well-established, the “that criminal responsibility for certain crimes if proven at trial could lead to convictions of senior military commanders and Sri Lankan government officials” as well as senior surviving members of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The CEO of the PIAC, Edward Santow, said to Guardian Australia that the investigations seemed to confirm claims that Sri Lanka attacked areas where civilians congregated, after declaring them ‘No Fire Zones’.

Edward Santow, told Guardian Australia that its investigations also found strong evidence of well-aired claims that Sri Lankan forces attacked areas which they had encouraged civilians to take shelter in.

“What the Sri Lankan government did was it created what were called no-fire zones - areas where civilians, and particularly Tamils, were encouraged to congregate and the very clear implication was that they would be safe from attack,” said Santow.

“However our analysis of what was on the public record and our further new evidentiary material shows that there were attacks, artillery bombardments, on key parts of the no-fire zones, including on hospitals that were clearly marked as hospitals.”

“What we’ve done is very methodically tried to follow the evidence and take it wherever it leads. The findings or conclusions one might draw from this is that there are very credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity both against the Sri Lankan government and also against members of the LTTE,” said Santow.

“We know from history that in order to have a lasting peace and reconciliation there needs to be full accountability for atrocities that occur in civil war. That full accountability hasn’t occurred yet and it seems that the only way in which that could occur is to have a full independent international inquiry into these issues.”

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