War-crime allegations lead to Shavendra's ouster from UN post

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 February 2012, 04:45 GMT]
Louise Frechette, a Canadian official who chairs the special advisory group (SAG) at the United Nations in New York, said in a statement released at the UN Head Quarters today, that she has advised Major General Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka, that "his [Silva's] participation is not appropriate or helpful for the purposes of this Group [SAG]. He [Silva] will not participate in its deliberations." Shavendra Silva, who was recently rescued from a civil litigation in a New York court over war-crimes allegations, is the second Sri Lanka Military Commander, after deputy Counsel in Sri Lanka’s embassy in Germany, Jegath Dias, to be barred from high level positions outside SriLanka for alleged complicity in war-crimes against Eezham Tamils.

Louise Frechette, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General for eight years
Louise Frechette, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General for eight years
Shavendra Silva, retired Army General
Shavendra Silva, retired Army General
Frechette is a former UN deputy secretary general and top Canadian diplomat who was named by Ban to chair the committee.

"If Frechette had not acted this panel would just have fallen apart, nobody wanted him on the panel," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, AFP said in its coverage of Shavendra Silva's ouster from the UN Advisory Group.

Silva's nomination was strongly condemned by Human Rights Watch and other rights groups. UN human rights chief Navi Pillay also wrote a letter condemning the appointment.

But the UN secretariat had previously said it could do nothing about Silva's appointment as it was decided by member countries.

However, Professor Boyle, an expert in International Law, debunked this excuse in an earlier note to TamilNet, where he said, "Ban to appoint a presumptive war criminal to his Staff would be ultra vires his powers under the terms of article 101(3) and thus a violation of the Charter itself."

Inner City Press (ICP) which mounted a sustained campaign of questioning the evasive UN spokespersons on Silva's appointment, had noted Silva attending the SAG meeting mid-morning and had sent a formal question to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, about where the meeting was and who attended.

Frechette's Press statement announcing the "dismissal" of Mr Silva followed ICP's inquiry.

ICP quoted several paragraphs, including the following, from the UN Expert Panel's report that pointed to alleged complicity of Shavendra Silva in committing war crimes in Sri Lanka:
    In Paragraph 62, Silva appears: "six major battalions were active in the final stages of the war, including... the 58th Division (commanded by Brigadier Shavendra Silva)."

    90. Fighting in the area intensified as part of the expressed efforts by the 55th and 58th Divisions to capture PTK by 4 February... in the week between 29 January and 4 February, PTK hospital was hit every day by MBRLs and other artillery, taking at least nine direct hits. A number of patients inside the hospital, most of them already injured, were killed, as were several staff members. Even the operating theatre was hit. Two ICRC international delegates were in the hospital when it was shelled on 4 February 2009. The shelling was coming from SLA positions.

    92. The GPS coordinates of PTK hospital were well known to the SLA, and the hospital was clearly marked with emblems easily visible to UAVs. On 1 February 2009, the ICRC issued a public statement emphasizing that "[w]ounded and sick people, medical personnel and medical facilities are all protected by international humanitarian law. Under no circumstance may they be directly attacked."


Chronology:


External Links:
ICP: As Lanka Missive Blurs Silva Role in Ban's Experts Report, UN Omits to Check
ICP: Alleged War Criminal Silva of Sri Lanka Is At UN Adviser Meeting, "Doesn't Speak," Statement Promised
AFP: UN committee bars Sri Lankan general linked to atrocities

 

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