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Rights group seeks arrest of former president Rajapaksa in Singapore

24 July 2022 07:12 pm - 22     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A rights group documenting alleged abuses in Sri Lanka has filed a criminal complaint with Singapore's attorney general, seeking the arrest of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his role in the South Asian nation's decades-long civil war, the Reuters reported.

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) said Rajapaksa committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions during the civil war in 2009 when he was country's defence chief, according to a copy of the complaint seen by Reuters.

The South Africa-based ITJP argued that based on universal jurisdiction the alleged abuses were subject to prosecution in Singapore, where he fled after months of unrest over his country's economic crisis.

“The criminal complaint that has been filed is (based on) verifiable information on both the crimes that have been committed, but also on evidence really linking the individual in question, who is now in Singapore,” Alexandra Lily Kather, one of the lawyers that drafted the complaint, told Reuters by telephone from Berlin.

“Singapore really has a unique opportunity with this complaint, with its own law and with its own policy, to speak truth to power.”

Rajapaksa submitted his resignation in Singapore, a day after fleeing on July 13. Anti-government protesters had stormed the offices and official residences of the president and the prime minister. 

Rajapaksa could not be reached for comment through Sri Lanka's High Commission in Singapore. He has previously strenuously denied allegations he was responsible for rights abuses during the war.

In response to questions from Reuters, a spokesperson for the Attorney-General's Chambers said it had received a letter from the ITJP on July 23.

"We are not able to comment further on this matter," the spokesperson said.

The country's foreign ministry has said Rajapaksa entered the Southeast Asian city-state on a private visit and had not sought or been granted asylum.

Shubhankar Dam, a professor at the University of Portsmouth School of Law in Britain, who has taught in Singapore, said while its courts were able to try alleged war crimes, genocide, and torture, it has repeatedly stated that such jurisdiction should only be invoked as a last resort.

"The country's foreign ministry has said Rajapaksa entered the Southeast Asian city-state on a private visit and had not sought or been granted asylum.

Shubhankar Dam, a professor at the University of Portsmouth School of Law in Britain, who has taught in Singapore, said while its courts were able to try alleged war crimes, genocide, and torture, it has repeatedly stated that such jurisdiction should only be invoked as a last resort.

The ITJP assisted in two civil lawsuits against Rajapaksa, proceedings for one of which were served in a California parking lot in 2019. Rajapaksa was a U.S. citizen at the time.

Both cases were withdrawn after Rajapaksa was granted diplomatic immunity upon becoming president later that year.


  Comments - 22

  • Mano Monday, 25 July 2022 03:54 AM

    Long overdue

    DOT Monday, 25 July 2022 05:00 AM

    A hungry Fox followed a Goat!

    Mohedeen Monday, 25 July 2022 05:42 AM

    This is a new come back strategy. Arrest is not possible. Rajapaksha clans now trying to get sympathy over the majority group. In a few moths all Rajapaksha clans will be holding mistrial position in the cabinet. And retake the President and PM positions.

    Pol Horu Monday, 25 July 2022 06:03 AM

    And together with his brothers, for murdering and destroying our country and for stealing its wealth!!!

    Ro Bert Monday, 25 July 2022 06:04 AM

    'Karma'

    Russel Harmmer Monday, 25 July 2022 07:46 AM

    Yes, Gota ruined SriLanka with Dictatorship ruling he should be arrested, no argument.

    Kamal Bolawansa Monday, 25 July 2022 07:47 AM

    Not only Gota, Mahinda too should be arrested.

    Matter of time google time Monday, 25 July 2022 08:04 AM

    It’s a matter of time until these so called patriots see the end of their games including Ranil

    K Cader Monday, 25 July 2022 08:11 AM

    Good move. He will be in a right place to apprehend and try for the war crimes he committed in various ways. Go Gota Go to Prison!

    sam Monday, 25 July 2022 08:18 AM

    Poor chap after all has no home to settle down. Supposed to have mansions in LA.

    Sunil Monday, 25 July 2022 08:21 AM

    This guy who was chased out through the back door by the people of Sri Lanka is getting, not just a warm, but a heated response wherever he goes. His 'noble' deeds are chasing behind him. What he will understand very soon is that few survive when the hunters become the hunted.

    lkwenflwnlknedkedn Monday, 25 July 2022 08:40 AM

    Bring to justice all the thieves.

    kudson Monday, 25 July 2022 08:43 AM

    hopefully america will not take this criminal back and blacken its name further

    Tak Tik Tuk Monday, 25 July 2022 08:53 AM

    Arresting Rajapaksha's won't happen with RW at the Helm

    VJ Monday, 25 July 2022 09:30 AM

    Karma is real. You can run but you can’t hide.

    BuffaloaCitizen Monday, 25 July 2022 09:57 AM

    Super, this tyrant should never be allowed to rest in peace for the rest of his life for all the arrogance he perpetrated on his own Citizens.

    Anne Karunaratne Monday, 25 July 2022 10:18 AM

    Long overdue indeed! Not only GR, MR and BR also must be brought before the law. Do it soon before a plot is hatched to escape!

    Eshan Silva Monday, 25 July 2022 10:20 AM

    This will seal the fate of Aragalaya and Aragala Karuwan.

    Devaka Karunaratne Monday, 25 July 2022 11:23 AM

    Arrest only Gota. Please do not arrest Arjun Mahendran as he has not done any wrong thing to Sri Lanka. He is a very good clean man.

    Anthony. R Monday, 25 July 2022 11:33 AM

    This is "Repercussions " this will keep following where ever Gota goes. No way out of "Karma"

    Anthony. R Monday, 25 July 2022 11:33 AM

    This is "Repercussions " this will keep following where ever Gota goes. No way out of "Karma"

    Big kuk Monday, 25 July 2022 06:13 PM

    fake crap to keep distracting our donkeys


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