Sri Lanka’s current defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando stated that his government would be arresting a group of soldiers accused of committing murder, in a surprise announcement on Monday.
He said that a group of 11 soldiers would be arrested in coming weeks, accusing them of having committed a crime - but did not elaborate on the specific incident he was referring to.
“When within two weeks we indict these 11 security personnel, the diaspora will not be able to accuse us of sheltering those responsible for atrocities,” he said in Colombo. “I urge them, if they have evidence, I am sure they must have, then we can prosecute others too.”
The secretary went on to state only those soldiers who were awarded medals could be recognised as war heroes.
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The announcement comes just weeks before Sri Lanka is due to be discussed at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where the government agreed to implement a resolution that would mandate international judges and prosecutors in an accountability mechanism for war crimes.
To date, no such mechanism has been set up.