ECONOMYNEXT – The first UN war crimes report on Sri Lanka has identified several top militrary and police personnel in charge of key units held responsible for extra judicial killings, rape and degrading treatment of civilians.
Individual culpability is not specified in the 261-page report, but it has clearly identified the command structure of the armed forces, down from commander in chief Mahinda Rajapaksa to field commanders.
It also names individuals such as Palitha Kohona and minister Basil Rajapaksa as key government figures involved in arrangements for a surrender of Tiger political wing cadres who were later executed by the military.
For the first time, the UN accuses the military of carrying out a cold-blooded execution of unarmed cadres giving themselves up to the security forces following assurances of safety from Kohona, a top official of Sri Lanka’s Peace Secretariat.
"The OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that LTTE senior political wing leaders Balasingham Nadesan and Seevaratnam Puleedevan as well as Nadesan’s wife Vineetha Nadesan may have been executed by the security forces sometime after 06:00 on 18 May.
"However, further investigation is required to determine the full facts as to what happened and who was responsible for the killings."
The report contradicted testimony from Major General Shavendra Silva who had denied troops shelled the Putumattalan hospital.
"However, testimony collected by OISL strongly contradicts this version of events. Putumattalan hospital was used to treat civilians, and came under repeated attack."
Depending on the circumstances, if confirmed by a court of law, many of the cases described in the report may amount to war crimes and or crimes against humanity, the report said.
The report identifies key field commanders in charge of the military commanders in charge of 53rd, 55th, 57th, 58th and 59th divisions directly involved in the final phase of the war as well as CID, TID, STF and intelligence units of the country.
The main recommendation to the UN and member states was to initiate prosecutions based on "universal jurisdiction." Foreign governments were also asked to ensure "stringent vetting" before offering training opportunities to Sri Lankan police and military personnel.