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Rights groups demand prosecution of Gotabaya Rajapaksa

In a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, human rights groups and Tamil civil society organisations request for her to publicly, to call upon the government of Singapore to prosecute former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

The statement comes as Singapore’s foreign minister has released a statement detailing that the war crimes accused former president was not granted “any privileges, immunity or hospitality”.

In their joint letter, the organisations highlight Bachelet’s repeated calls on member states to exercise universal jurisdiction but the failure of states to do so “even after credible criminal complaints have been filed concerning alleged perpetrators in their territory”.

A clear example is the case of former general Jagath Jayasuriya who served as the Security Force Commander of operations in the Vanni region during the final phase of the armed conflict. Documents submitted by the International Truth and Justice Project and Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ) detail how Sri Lanka’s armed forces engaged in serious human rights violations including the “targeted bombardment and shelling of civilians, hospitals, medical facilities and humanitarian conveys, including through the use of white phosphorus and cluster munitions. In addition, there was widespread and systematic abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence”.

The letter further notes that Tamil and international human rights organisations have signed a joint letter urging Singapore’s Attorney-General’s Chambers to investigate and, as appropriate, prosecute Rajapaksa for his involvement in serious international crimes during the final phase of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka.  “A period that Tamil organisations and various government officials have recognised as genocide”.

The letter was signed by:

  • People for Equality and Relief in Lanka,
  • International Truth and Justice Project
  • Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America
  • Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace & Justice
  • British Tamil Conservatives
  • United States Tamil Action Group
  • Tamils for Labour
  • Tamil Americans United PAC
  • Tamil Rights Group
  • Ilankai Tamil Sangam
  • Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam

Read the full letter here.

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