Amnesty: US should investigate Rajapaksa during his visit

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 January 2011, 23:23 GMT]
The United States should investigate Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa, when he arrives on a surprise visit to the US this week, for his alleged role in perpetrating torture and war crimes, Amnesty International said Wednesday. President Rajapaksa left Sri Lanka for the US early Wednesday, taking a delegation of 20 on a supposedly private visit.

"The United States has an obligation under international law to investigate and prosecute people who perpetrated war crimes and grave human rights violations such as extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director.

In a statement Amnesty pointed out President Rajapaksa is commander in chief of Sri Lanka's armed forces, which face numerous allegations of engaging in war crimes, enforced disappearances, and torture.

“Under international law, military commanders may face criminal responsibility if they knew, or should have known, of such crimes being committed by their subordinates,” Amnesty said.

"Thousands of victims in Sri Lanka demand accountability for the abuses they've suffered from the Sri Lankan security forces as well as armed groups such as the LTTE," Zarifi said.

Amnesty cited a Wikileaked US embassy cable from Ambassador Patricia Butenis from Colombo in which she noted the difficulty of bringing perpetrators of alleged crimes to justice when “responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country's senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers ....”

“The United States should further investigate these allegations and support calls for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s role in war crimes,” Amnesty said.


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