An appeal to Ex Servicemen’s Associations including the ARFRO, Professional Organisations and others to defend the armed forces personnel from unjustified investigations and politically motivated harassment.
The recent UNHRC resolution co-sponsored by the present Government of Sri Lanka aims to investigate members of the Sri Lankan armed forces for accountability in relation to allegations of war crimes. The investigative and legal processes are to include foreign judges, prosecutors and legal personnel.
The UN Human Rights Commissioner in his report of 30 September 2015 indicates as follows why the foreign participation is desired.
‘I welcome the Government’s commitment made before this Council, to investigate those violations and ensure accountability’. ’The unfortunate reality, however is that Sri Lanka’s criminal justice system is not currently equipped to conduct an independent, credible investigations of this breath and magnitude. This is why I have recommended the establishment of an ad hoc hybrid special court, integrating judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators mandated to try notably war crimes and crimes against humanity, with its own independent investigative and prosecuting organ, defence office and witness and victims protection program. In highly polarized environment such a mechanism is essential to give all Sri Lankans, especially the victims, the confidence in the independence and impartiality of the process. “.
“Among the many unsubstantiated allegations in the Human Rights Commissioner’s Report against the Sri Lankan security forces are Unlawful killings, Violations relating to the deprivation of liberty, Enforced disappearances, Torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, Sexual and gender-based violence, Hostilities on civilians and civilian objects, Denial of humanitarian assistance, Deprivation of liberty of internally displaced persons.”
The above comments in the Report and the UNHRC resolution are clearly affront to both the judicial system and the members of the armed forces of Sri Lanka
It is indeed ironic that the High Commissioner’s statement and the resolution question the independence and the impartiality of the judiciary to conduct cases relating to war crimes in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, neither the High Commissioner nor the resolution provide sufficient and credible evidence to establish a prima facie case that the SL Government or its armed forces in fact committed war crimes to persuade any type of courts to follow through with an investigation.
The Resolution and the Report, especially the operative sections therein, 571,600, 981, 982, 983 and 1001, have alleged very serious crimes to have been committed by the armed forces mainly based on the highly questionable Darusman Report and the Channel 4 videos. But, the LLRC and Parangana commission reports have cleared the armed forces of these serious charges. Furthermore, Government of Sri Lanka has completely ignored the independent Military Expert Opinion of Major General John Holmes whose findings were very favourable to Sri Lanka and its defence forces.
In co-sponsoring the UNHRC Resolution and accepting the resolution, the Government has agreed to amend country’s laws, which in effect means that members of the armed forces will be tried under new laws that were not in existence when they fought the war.
In addition to the above, both serving and retired defence force personnel including service commanders will be hauled before politically controlled investigative bodies with little or no evidence for follow up action. This will undoubtedly lead to the degradation of morale within the service personnel and also cause a loss of public confidence in the armed forces.
We have indicated above, some of the very serious implications on the ‘chief targets ‘- the armed forces of Sri Lanka – and the consequences arising from such an investigation will have on the concerned members of the armed forces who practically staked their lives and the families to liberate the country from the brutal terrorists, cannot be evaluated. The morale of the armed forces will be shattered and it will make the armed forces weak so that ultimately the peace and the national security will be adversely affected.
At a time when France and other Western countries have declared ‘WAR’ on terrorism, one should not forget how tens of thousands of civilians were killed or maimed by the suicide bombers ,explosion of bombs in city centres and how human rights were violated by the LTTE Tamil Tiger Terrorists by using thousands
of child soldiers in Sri Lanka for nearly 35 years. One should also remember how some of the Western countries and India directly or indirectly supported the LTTE. It was ONLY after the LTTE’s failure to abide by the internationally sponsored negotiations that Sri Lanka declared war against the LTTE terrorism and ushered in peace for 21 million Sri Lankan people.
We therefore, request the Ex Servicemen’s Organisations including the ARFRO, Professional Organisations together with the Civil Society to register your VEHEMENT PROTEST about this surrender of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, the scant respect shown to our judicial system and the attempts to sacrifice the members of the armed forces illegally and unconstitutionally.
· Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka (Victoria)
· Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka (NSW)
· Western Australia Society for Peace, Unity and Rehabilitation in Sri Lanka (WA)
· Veera Parakramabahu Foundation Inc. (NSW)
· Sinhala Cultural Association of Australia Inc. (ACT)
. Viru Daru Diriya Fund- Victoria