A group of UN experts expressed serious concern at the appointment of war crimes accused Shavendra Silva as Sri Lanka’s army chief, and urged the government to advance long overdue reforms of the security sector and investigate past abuses.
On August 18, President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Shavendra Silva as Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, raising concerns of numerous actors, including the High Commissioner for Human Rights, due to his alleged involvement in serious human rights violations during the 25-year long civil war and especially the final phases of the war.
“The appointment of Lieutenant General Silva to the highest ranks in Sri Lankan’s Army, while facing allegations of this nature, is an affront to the victims and a harrowing sign of the perpetuation of impunity in the country, which risks undermining the trust of Sri Lankan society on state institutions and fuelling further destabilization,” said the experts.
Lieutenant General Silva was the Commanding Officer of the 58th Division of the SLA during the last stages of the conflict that ended in May 2009. UN reports have implicated him and his troops in alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2012, Lieutenant General Silva was removed from the UN Special Advisory Group on Peace Keeping Operations due to the allegations. “The allegations against Lieutenant General Silva and his division have not been properly investigated to date,” the UN experts said.