RAJAPAKSA BROTHERS ‘GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES’ says US expert in international law

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Tamils marching in London on June 20 demanding Sri Lankans responsible for genocide be prosecuted for war crimes
Tamils marching in London on June 20 demanding Sri Lankans responsible for genocide be prosecuted for war crimes

A US-based group has independently verified the authenticity of the Channel-4 video in October showing the murder of Tamil Tiger prisoners by Sri Lankan troops.

The Times has also reported that its own independent analysis of the Channel-4 broadcast video, showing Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers summarily executing unarmed Tamils stripped naked and hands tied behind the back, found ‘no evidence of digital manipulation, editing or any other special effects.

The Times’ forensic analyst, Grant Fredericks, is an independent forensic video specialist who is also an instructor at the FBI National Academy, the paper said.

Mr Fredericks’ research showed that the code embedded in the footage appeared to match with software used in Nokia mobile phones.

He said: ‘The recording is completely consistent with a cell phone video recording and there are no signs of editing or alterations.’

The Times report closely matches the key findings by the US Colorado-based Image and Sound Forensics (ISF) experts who performed the analysis on behalf of US pressure group Tamils Against Genocide (TAG).

Colorado ISF’s report, parts of which appeared in the Sunday Leader, had previously confirmed, ‘The video and audio of the events depicted in the Video, were continuous without any evidence of start/stops, insertions, deletions, over recordings, editing or tampering of any kind.’

While, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions had earlier declared the video investigations by the local ‘experts’ appointed by the Sri Lanka Government as ‘not impartial’.

However, Philip Alston’s assertion that UN will conduct its own investigations on the authenticity of the video has not materialised.

Meanwhile, the TAG spokesperson when contacted by TamilNet said, ‘While we have published the summary of the findings, ISF is due to provide TAG a detailed technical report detailing the analysis carried out.’

Meanwhile the former Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Commander General Sarath Fonseka’s statement to the effect that the Rajapaksa Brothers, Gotabhaya Rajapakse and Basil Rajapakse, and Brigadier Shavendra Silva ordered the murder of surrendering LTTE leaders protected by a White Flag pursuant to a prior agreement to surrender establishes a prima facie ‘war crime’ under the customary international laws of war as codified into and exemplified by US Army Field Manual 27-10 ‘The Law of Land Warfare’ (1956), paragraph 504.

This is the opinion of Professor Francis A Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law, and an expert in International Law, in a note sent to TamilNet.

Boyle said that the prima facie war crimes culpability attaches for the following three reasons, at least:

‘504. Other Types of War Crimes In addition to the “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the following acts are representative of violations of the law of war (“war crimes”):

1. Abuse of or firing on the flag of truce.

2. Killing without trial spies or other persons who have committed hostile acts.

3. Violation of surrender terms.’

Consequently the Rajapaksa Brothers and Brigadier Silva are presumptive war criminals.

Every State in the world has both the right and the obligation to prosecute them should they leave Sri Lanka and enter into the territorial jurisdiction of another State, Boyle said.

Professor Boyle added that this War Crime also constituted a gross violation of Common Article 3 to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, to which Sri Lanka is a party and also constitutes customary international law:

‘Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms . . . shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds…

(d) . . . the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognised as indispensable by civilised peoples.’

Every State in the World is a Contracting Party to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Therefore, every State in the World has both the right and the duty to prosecute the Rajapaksa Brothers and Brig. Silva for this War Crime, Professor Boyle asserted.

‘Legally, they are like unto Pirates – Hostes humani generis, the enemies of all humankind! The International Community has acted effectively to suppress and to punish Pirates coming from Somalia.

‘That same International Community must now act effectively to suppress and to punish War Criminals coming from Sri Lanka,’ Boyle said.

• The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) brought from Vanni camps and resettled in Jaffna have been ordered to register their particulars with the local civil administrative authorities of Sri Lanka Army (SLA) or Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), sources in Jaffna said.

These IDPs who had already registered their particulars with their local Village Officers are again being subjected to endless inconvenience, the sources added.

The IDPs in Jaffna peninsula and the islets cannot move freely without the Family Registration Certificate (FRC) issued by SLA or SLN.

According to the new order the IDPs have to register all details of their family members along with their photos with their local SLA/SLN civil authorities and obtain the FRC.

The IDPs resettled in the islets of Jaffna are unable to move freely without the FRC.

Being repeatedly subjected to restrictions has created frustration among the resettled IDPs in Jaffna, the sources said.