Lawsuit filed against Shavendra Silva in US

A lawsuit was filed against Sri Lankan General, Shavendra Silva, accused of war crimes whilst commander of the 58th division of the Sri Lankan Army in 2009. Silva is currently Sri Lanka’s Acting Permanent Representative to the UN. The lawsuit was filed by the American University Washington College of Law’s UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic in the Southern District of New York. Ali Beydoun, lead counsel on this case said, “These egregious violations of international and domestic law have gone unanswered for over two years now, as survivors continue to suffer in suffocating silence on the island. Finally, after years of waiting for someone to answer for the loss of loved ones, the voices of Tamil victims and survivors have been granted their day in court. Today, U.S. courts provide a forum for justice and accountability, where there would otherwise be continued impunity for Sri Lanka’s crimes against Tamils.” Beydoun is also the director at American University Washington College of Law’s UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, and a Senior Partner at SPEAK Human Rights Initiative. In a statement released Friday, the counsel argued, "This lawsuit seeks damages for violations of international, Sri Lankan and domestic law under the Alien Torture Claims Act (ATCA) and Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). These statutes grant jurisdiction to U.S. courts over human rights violations committed abroad, and serve to ensure that the U.S. does not become a safe haven for war criminals. The day will not be getting any easier for Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as massive protests greet his arrival in New York for the 66th U.N. General Assembly. This day marks a uniquely perfect storm for justice, as demands for accountability begin to echo throughout New York and the world.

Dias faces arrest if he returns

Major General Jagath Dias, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Ambassador to Germany and Switzerland, will face a criminal investigation if he were to return to Swiss territory due to his “personal involvement” in alleged war crimes. The statement comes from the Swiss Federal Attorney General following a criminal complaint filed by TRIAL (Swiss association against impunity) and the Society for threatened peoples (SPM) against Dias. The Attorney General said that whilst leading the 57th Division, there were several instances that “highlight Mr Dias' personal involvement in the military operations undertaken...

Takers, keepers

“When asked why can't [Tamil] refugees go back to the villages that they originally came from, the government said that it is not possible because those areas are now special economic development areas , uncleared minefields or on land the military wants to keep .” - ANI news agency. See the report here .

Lies and landlords

While Channel 4’s investigative documentary Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields is yet to be shown at the UN despite numerous requests, the Sri Lankan Government’s counter-documentary was granted permission to be screened earlier this month. The decision to air the documentary “Lies Agreed Upon” (and not Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields ) was made by the UN Correspondent’s Association President, Giampaolo Pioli, who also covered the event. It has now been revealed that he was Sri Lanka’s representative to the UN, Palitha Kohona’s former landlord. “But undisclosed at the time was that Pioli collected money...

Tamil lawyers protest against police impunity

Tamil lawyers in Jaffna reportedly boycotted the Court of Law, on Thursday, in protest against the arrest and brutal assault of a Tamil civilian by the Sri Lankan police. Describing the conduct of the seven policemen involved as an "affront to the authority, dignity and the sanctity of the Courts of Law", they added that such conduct " constitutes a brazen and blatant violation of all norms of behaviour that are expected of the guardians of the law ."

India shields Devananda from arrest

India's External Affairs Ministry reportedly informed the Madras High Court that Douglas Devananda, as a cabinet minister of Sri Lanka, could not be arrested as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, warning that any attempt to arrest Devananda would sour relations between Sri Lanka and India. Devanda, leader of the pro-government paramilitary group-cum-political party, EPDP, is wanted in a 1986 shootout and murder case in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. He was also been accused of kidnapping a boy in 1988. In 1989, he was arrested and later let out on bail. Under Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, Kaghal Matha Praphullachandra Sharma, also stated that India did not have an extradition treaty with Sri Lanka. However, according to a report in the The Hindu, under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Extradition Act, there was an extradition arrangement between the governments with effect from September 1, 1978. Leaked US embassy cables, sent in June 2009 , describe Devananda to have a " violent and even criminal history ", showing " few signs of reforming ".

Australian campaign for Sri Lanka’s Commonwealth suspension

A group of Australian academics, politicians and human rights campaigners is calling for Sri Lanka's suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth until the government agrees to cooperate with an international investigation into war crimes. “ Commonwealth nations have to take [their institution] seriously or otherwise it just becomes another gentleman's club where everyone slaps everyone on the back and says nice things. “The Commonwealth is an important means of assisting the less wealthy and less powerful members of the Commonwealth, but unless they start dealing with serious breaches of...

'JVP suffers major split' - The Island

The Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has suffered a major split and a new party has been formed according to reports in The Island . The dissidents led by Dimuthu Atygala, Pugbudu Jagoda and Waruna Rajapakse are said to have walked out a Committee meeting on Monday after announcing the breakaway. The breakaway faction, who claim to have the support of more than half of the JVP’s 24-member committee, are expected to register a new political party soon. However, JVP leader Somawanse Amarasinghe downplayed talks of a crisis at the party. “The JVP is functioning like before and there is no crisis...

Mahinda Economics

Sri Lanka’s trade, currency and debt quandary The International Monetary Fund suspended its programme of supplying Colombo with credit in exchange for reform on Monday after Sri Lanka refused to follow advice and abandon a policy of actively intervening in foreign exchange markets to support the value of the Rupee. Earlier this month Brian Aitken, the IMF’s head of mission in Colombo, warned that Sri Lanka’s policy of selling dollars to maintain the value of the rupee “does not seem to be in line with the fundamentals in the economy”’ and that the policy was rapidly depleting foreign currency reserves. He pointed out that Colombo’s “non-borrowed reserves.. have steadily declined, reflecting foreign exchange sales by the central bank.”

British High Commissioner questions 'peace'

Speaking at an event held to mark International Day of Peace , John Rankin, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, stressed that the absence of war does not necessarily equate to peace and that peace "means different things to different people. "On Peace Day, I think it is important to reflect both on the importance of peace and the challenges to achieving it. The absence of war does not automatically mean that peace has been achieved ." " Peace means different things to different people ." "But I am sure we can all agree that the inclusivity, trust and respect are essential to creating...