A landmark legal submission has been filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC) calling on the Chief Prosecutor to “investigate and in due course arrest” several senior Sri Lankan officials for crimes against humanity. The submission, filed by Global Rights Compliance LLP on behalf of 200 Tamil victims in the United Kingdom, is being made under Article 15 of the Rome Statute, which allows the prosecutor to initiate investigations “on the basis of information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court”.
A full page advert in this morning’s The Herald warns the people of Scotland that Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who stands credibly accused of war crimes and genocide, will be coming to Glasgow next week.
Dr Beth Van Schaack, an esteemed human rights lawyer and academic that has written extensively on accountability and justice in Sri Lanka, has been nominated by US president Joe Biden for the post of Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice at the Department of State. See more of her work on accountability in Sri Lanka below.
Powell in Colombo, 2005. This week, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell passed away from COVID-19 related complications, aged 84 years old. Powell will be remembered as being the first African-American US Secretary of State and also for his role in garnering international support for the US invasion of Iraq. We look back on his interactions and remarks on Sri Lanka, the faltering peace process between the Sri Lankan government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Washington’s support for Colombo that empowered the Rajapaksa regime and its military offensive.
British Tamils from across the country have paid tribute to Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils, who was stabbed to death whilst meeting with his constituents at a church in Leigh-on-Sea. In response to his tragic death, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed the country's sorrowing stating "our hearts are full of shock and sadness" at the loss of "one of the kindest" people in politics. He further added that Amess had an "outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable".
The Sri Lankan government is considering launching a bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games according to a report in the BBC, following a previous failed attempt under Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2011 and ongoing controversy over the island’s human rights record. The BBC quoted “insiders” as stating that Sri Lanka, alongside Australia, Canada and India and Sri Lanka have “expressed interest in staging the 2026 Games but, as yet, a host has not been secured”. The next set of games in 2022 are set to be held in Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
As Sri Lankan singer Yohani Diloka de Silva continues to feature in news across the Sinhala press for her music, for many Tamils it is her Sri Lankan military connection that has drawn controversy. The singer, who went viral with her cover version of the Sinhala song "Manike Mage Hithe", is the daughter of former Sri Lankan army Major General Prasanna De Silva, a military commander who is credibly accused of overseeing war crimes and a commander who Yohani has repeatedly praised as a "hero".
October 10th 2021, marks thirty-four years since the death of 2nd Lt. Maalathy, the first female fighter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to lose her life in the Tamil armed struggle. Across the world, the day is being commemorated as Tamil Women’s Day, an opportunity to honour women’s involvement in the fight for Tamil rights.
Speaking at a debate in Scottish parliament over the government's international policy, Scottish Labour spoke out against the Scottish government's inaction regarding Police Scotland providing training to the police forces of countries, such as Sri Lanka, which it considers are engaging in human rights abuses and repression”. "What is the Scottish Government’s response to that alarming activity? To repeatedly pass the buck to Police Scotland. There is no point in having a justice secretary who is not prepared to stand up for human rights and hold the police to account when things go wrong, yet we have exactly that in Keith Brown." Mercedes Villalba, MSP for North East Scotland, told parliament.
Responding to the revelation that members of the Rajapaksa family stashed millions of dollars in anonymous offshore trusts and shell companies, Sri Lankan State Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, C B Ratnayake blamed the Tamil diaspora.