See no evil - Australia's way on war crimes

“Australia’s Attorney-General, Robert McClelland promptly quashed the case [against President Rajapaksa], claiming it breached domestic law and Australia's treaty pledges of diplomatic and sovereign immunity for visiting leaders. “ A smokescreen, of course, since domestic law does allow private war crimes prosecutions - if they are taken over by federal prosecutors and approved by the attorney-general. “ As for immunity , Australian National University expert Donald Rothwell says this is yet to be tested in an Australian court where serious war crimes are involved.” - Hamish McDonald , the...

Sri Lanka confident amid Indian backing

A senior Sri Lankan diplomat says that "plans have been" made to thwart any attempts to bring out issues related to Colombo's human rights at the Commonwealth summit in Austrlia. He said several Commonwealth countries have shown solidarity towards Sri Lanka and have dismissed those accusing Colombo of human rights violations. The unnamed diplomat added: " Already we have India backing us along with several South Asian and African countries. India has indicated that they will oppose a Commonwealth report that seeks to establish a monitoring group for member countries on human rights. " Most of...

From the Commonwealth summit ...

Hundreds of Australian Tamils joined others protesting outside the Commonwealth summit in Perth on Friday. See TamilNet 's report on the Perth protests here . See more pictures of the protest here . Also, see the Daily Mail ’s report, with several photographs, on the Commonwealth summit, and the protests outside, here .

‘Resettlement’ in Sri Lanka – what the figures show and conceal

Rather than resettling displaced Tamils, since the war ended, the Sri Lankan armed forces have occupied a further 7,000 sq km of land owned by Tamil people . So what do the government’s claims of resettlement mean? “According to the government's own figures as at 1st July 2011, 258,446 had been ‘returned' or ‘resettled' from welfare camps, leaving 12,661 in the Kadirgamar, Anandakumarasawmi (Zone 1), Arunachalam (Zone III) IDP camps. The most current figures suggest that only 7,440 persons remain in these camps, insinuating that all others have been returned or resettled. “ What the...

Asset expropriation bill expected to be passed soon

Sri Lankan courts are expected to pass a law that will allow the state to expropriate any assets from citizens that they deem “underutilized”. According to reports , anyone found guilty of not handing their assets over to the Sri Lankan government will be “liable to imprisonment of ten years or a fine or both". It targets not only "underperforming enterprises”, but “underutilized assets" also, allowing the state to seize land and any other asset from individuals to large businesses. The law was proposed under an “urgent bill”, a device which commentators say is used to rush bills through the...

Amnesty urges Commonwealth to act

Amnesty International has called on the Commonwealth to block Sri Lanka from hosting the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013 or risk becoming “irrelevant”. The statement was released to mark the opening of the 2011 CHOGM in Perth, where Sri Lanka has come under increased pressure to deal with issues if war crimes and human rights. Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director said, "It's absurd to even consider allowing Sri Lanka to host CHOGM as long as it fails to account for alleged war crimes". "Today Commonwealth leaders are faced with a choice –...

Canadian MPs back call for action on Sri Lanka

Paul Dewar, a Member of Parliament and candidate for the leadership of the New Democratic Party in Canada, has released a statement urging the Commonwealth to hold Sri Lanka to account for alleged war crimes. He joined Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his call for an independent investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka and called to boycott the next CHOGM unless Sri Lanka had made progress on human rights. In his statement , Dewar said, “ The Commonwealth must not condone impunity. Once again, I call on the government of Sri Lanka to agree to a full, independent inquiry into the...

A view on Australia’s response to war crimes case against Rajapaksa

Dr Gideon Boas , Associate Professor in the Monash University Law School and a former Senior Legal Officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, writes on Australia’s response to war crimes charges filed in a local court against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa: “Despite our recent endeavours (driven by Kevin Rudd) to make a case for a seat on the UN Security Council, and our purported desire to assert our relevance in the international community, the fact remains that we are a parochial and unsophisticated country, both socially and politically . “Fearful of...

Sri Lanka: war crimes concerns are "propaganda" and "hearsay"

The Sri Lankan government dismissed human rights concerns raised by delegates at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, this week as "propaganda" from the Eelam Tamil diaspora, referred to as the "LTTE rump". Speaking on Thursday to the ABC news channel, the Sri Lankan president's spokesperson, Bandula Jayasekera, said, " This is hearsay. These are mere allegations... we have ended 30 years of terror ." " This is the well-oiled propaganda machinery of the LTTE rump " Sri Lanka's comments come the day after the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, personally...

‘Malaise and drift’ in the Commonwealth

Sir Malcolm Rifkind , a former British Foreign Secretary and member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, wrote in The Times on Monday: “Commonwealth heads of government are meeting in Australia this week. During the anti-apartheid struggles, such a summit would have been an event of world importance. On this occasion the world will hardly notice . “Even the most ardent supporters of the Commonwealth, of whom I am one, would acknowledge that a sense of drift and malaise has begun to set in . “Most damaging has been a deviation from the focus on human rights for which the Commonwealth has...

Pages