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Promoting Maj.Gen.Dias, a blow to justice-HRW

17 May 2015 09:06 am - 13     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today that promotion of a senior officer as the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army, whose division was implicated in serious human rights abuses, casts doubt on government pledges to credibly investigate alleged war crimes.

Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias, who led the Army’s 57th Division during the last two years of the civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was appointed army chief of staff, one of the armed forces’ highest post. Although effective May 7, 2015, the appointment was only made public on May 15.

“Sri Lanka’s new government has promised genuine accountability for wartime abuses, but naming the general of an abusive unit the army chief of staff is a slap in the face for victims,” said Brad Adams, Asia director.

“Members of the UN Human Rights Council expecting genuine accountability in Sri Lanka need to closely scrutinize the government’s actions.”

“The 57th Division took part in the last battles of the war, including the extremely bloody and abusive fighting on a small stretch of beach in Mullaitivu district. Human Rights Watch documented the indiscriminate shelling of civilians and hospitals by government forces in the region where the 57th Division was deployed,” it said.

The previous government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa denied any laws-of-war violations by the military and placed all blame for civilian losses on the LTTE. He rewarded top commanders for their role in the war. Maj. Gen. Dias served as the deputy head of Sri Lanka’s mission to Germany from 2009 to 2011. In 2013, Gen. Dias was denied entry visas to Australia and the United States for his possible involvement in war crimes.

In light of the Sri Lankan government’s resistance to accountability, the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014 adopted a resolution calling on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to open an independent international investigation into allegations of abuses by both sides. The Rajapaksa government refused to cooperate with the investigation.

The present government of President Maithripala Sirisena, elected in January 2015, has stated publicly that it intends to reverse Rajapaksa’s policies and deliver justice and accountability for war crimes. While positive steps have been taken to end the Rajapaksa government’s repressive governance style, the new administration has yet to make meaningful moves toward addressing wartime abuses.

The government should put into place an effective accountability mechanism with a significant international component. Previous government accountability mechanisms have been impaired by harassment, threats, and violence against witnesses and commissioners. The best way to address this problem would be to create a combined international and domestic court similar to the successful hybrid courts in Sierra Leone and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“The government’s appointment of General Dias is further proof that Sri Lanka needs an independent justice process with a strong international component that can undertake impartial investigations and prosecutions,” Adams said. “Six years since the end of the brutal conflict, the victims of the war still await justice.”

 
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  Comments - 13

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  • aruna Monday, 18 May 2015 11:02 AM

    who recommend Maj. gen. Dias to chief of staff ?

    Puran Appu Monday, 18 May 2015 08:44 PM

    Listen all ! Elimination of LTTE is treated as a HR violation ! Through this mirror we can read others mind :-) ha ha !

    Eng. M.V.R.Perera Monday, 18 May 2015 04:33 PM

    why is every body insulting our war heroes our president knows best

    Nanda Monday, 18 May 2015 12:44 PM

    Appointed a crook to catch the other crooks ?

    jil jil Monday, 18 May 2015 05:32 PM

    Bad appointment. Danger signal to MY3 via DM Android App

    Lawry Monday, 18 May 2015 08:44 AM

    Someone has Good kidnies!!!

    ananda Monday, 18 May 2015 08:45 AM

    The government must provide a slamming answer to HRW not to put fingers unnecessarily to our affairs.

    Senator Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:01 AM

    The law says,innoent unless proved guilty beyond doubt.Anyway,he was doing his job fighting terrorists.

    Dilip De Alwis Monday, 18 May 2015 08:56 AM

    he should be aware that the appointments are made by the SL govt and not by the this so called watch. During MRs time these useless people never interfered with our work

    Jesse Tuesday, 19 May 2015 12:15 AM

    Exactly! Most Mirror readers are reflection of the said mentality!

    Gamini Dullewe Sunday, 17 May 2015 07:50 PM

    No no ....this buying Jagath Dias to testify against Mahinda Rajapaksa in future UNHCR hearing in return for Jagath Dias getting gov. backing. ......basically this is a bribe !!!

    Ajith Sunday, 17 May 2015 08:15 PM

    Spot on Mr.Adams.

    Nims Monday, 18 May 2015 10:41 AM

    Ok HR idiots, you nominate someone as our Commander of Army.


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