Colombo, July 3 (newsin.asia): Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned that foreign countries, especially those of the West, could arrest Sri Lankans for crimes allegedly committed in Sri Lanka, if Sri Lanka incorporates into its domestic law, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances which it signed and ratified sometime ago.
In a statement issued here, Rajapaksa said : “ A Bill has been gazetted to incorporate into the law of Sri Lanka, the provisions of the ‘International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances’ which was hurriedly signed and ratified by the present government. Clause 8 of this Bill enables foreign countries to seek the extradition of a Sri Lankan who is suspected, accused or convicted of having caused enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka.”
“When such a request is made, the government of Sri Lanka is obliged to inform the foreign country of the measures it intends taking to prosecute or extradite that person.”
Articles 10 and 11 empowers any member State to arrest anybody, even a foreigner present within its jurisdiction on suspicion of having been involved in enforced disappearances in any other country. The State that carries out such an arrest can prosecute the suspect without extraditing him to his own country.”
“Most significantly, a suspect arrested in that manner, can be handed over to an international criminal tribunal even if the suspect’s own country does not come under the jurisdiction of that international tribunal.”
“Article 32 of the international Convention (which the Sri Lankan government has accepted by a separate declaration) enables any member State to complain to the ten-member ‘Committee on Enforced Disappearances’ in Geneva that Sri Lanka is not fulfilling her obligations under this Convention and the Committee can investigate such complaints.”
World Powers Not Signed Convention
Rajapaksa pointed out that “countries like the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada, never even signed this convention. Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and India signed it ten years ago in 2007, but never ratified it.”
“Many countries have kept away from this Convention altogether for the obvious reason that its provisions have the potential to violate the individual rights of citizens of the States that join it.”
“No one who is prosecuted in the courts of a foreign country or by an international criminal tribunal which is funded and maintained by interested foreign governments in relation to a crime allegedly committed in that person’s home country, can really expect justice. Such prosecutions are always politically motivated,” Rajapaksa pointed out.
Domestic Laws Adequate
Rajapaksa argued that Sri Lankan laws are adequate to cover all aspects of enforced disappearances.
“All the elements that relate to an enforced disappearance – abduction, illegal confinement, murder and the illegal disposal of dead bodies etc are more than adequately covered by the Penal Code and the existing criminal law in Sri Lanka. The only real purpose of this proposed law will be to give interested foreign parties an opportunity to interfere in the justice system in Sri Lanka.”
“Fortunately, according to our legal system and the judgment given by the Supreme Court in Nallaratnam Singarasa v. The Attorney General (2006), even an international convention that is signed and ratified does not become law in this country unless it is expressly incorporated into local law by Parliament.”
The former President therefore appealed to parliament to quash the bill when it is introduced.
“ The proposed law is an attempt to subject our armed forces to international war crimes prosecutions without using the term ‘war crimes’ and rephrasing it as ‘disappearances’. The use of the word ‘disappearances’ makes this look like an innocuous attempt to trace missing persons. However the purpose of this proposed legislation is not to trace missing persons but to hunt down and prosecute those who won the war against terrorism,” Rajapaksa warned.
(The featured image at the top is that of former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa)