Precedent setting order – US court authorises use of TamilNet to serve SL Pres

October 16, 2011 Comments Off on Precedent setting order – US court authorises use of TamilNet to serve SL Pres

TamilNet – US Court authorizes use of TamilNet to serve Rajapakse

In a precedent setting order issued by the District Court of District of Columbia Thursday on the case against Sri Lanka’s President Rajapakse filed by three Tamil plaintiffs, Judge Kotelly authorized service by “posting the full summons and complaint on the main page of the TamilNet website,” and by publication in two Sri Lankan newspapers. Legal sources in Washington said that Rajapakse being haled into a US court to answer charges of complicity in the extra-judicial killings of plaintiffs relatives is imminent.

Judge Kotelly in her short opinion leading to the order said, ‘[h]aving evaded service in person and refusing service under the international agreement [Hague Convention] established for the purpose of service of process on international defendants, “it is not reasonably possible or practicable to give more adequate warning” to Defendant [Rajapakse] than service by publication.

Bruce Fein, in responding to the Court order said:

“The District Court’s order authorizing service of the Torture Victims Protection Act Complaint and Summons on Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa via newspaper publication and posting on TamilNet marks a legal milestone in achieving accountability for the gruesome extra-judicial killings of innocent civilians ordered or condoned by the highest officials of the Sri Lankan government during the ethnic civil war.

“After service is effectuated, President Rajapaksa will be compelled to respond to the Complaint’s accusations in a court of law uncompromised by partisan politics. It can be expected that President Rajapaksa will retain an army of luxury-priced lawyers to defend him, who will attempt to throw technical legal obstacles to thwart justice.

“We urgently need all available financial and moral support to achieve victory not only for the three named Plaintiffs, but for all the victims of President Rajapaksa’s atrocities. A judgment in our favor in this case would set a precedent that would underwrite copy-cat TVPA suits by other victims of Rajapaksa endorsed or sponsored extra-judicial killings or torture.”

Meanwhile, another Sri Lanka website run by exiled journalists said that “[a] legal expert told this website that the granting of this motion was in itself a huge victory for the Plaintiffs and perhaps an indication of the acceptance by the Courts that the Complaint is sufficiently serious with a sound legal basis that has the potential to go to term rather than crash in the early stages on preliminary objections.”

Legal sources point out that there is binding precedent in the District Court of District of Columbia, in Mawani v. Osama Bin Laden, 417 f.3d 1, when foreign defendants avoid recognizing the service of process the court has granted plaintiffs leave to serve those defendants by “publishing…notice for six weeks in the Daily Washington Law Reporter,…”

The court would likely prefer to see more than one of the traditional avenues exhausted before allowing the plaintiffs to seek a default judgment, and in the Rajapakse case, the Court noted that “[h]aving unsuccessfully served Defendant with process via the Hague Convention, mail, and in person, Plaintiffs now seek to serve Defendant with process by one of a number of means, including publication, Twitter, Facebook, and email.”

Click here to view court order: Alternate means of service

US warns SL over war crimes

March 3, 2011 Comments Off on US warns SL over war crimes

While the true intentions of this message to Sri Lanka from the US will never be known…its atleast keeping the issue of ‘war crimes’ in Sri Lanka alive.

AFP (01/03) – Sri Lanka risks forced war crimes probe: US

BBC (01/03) – US warns Sri Lanka over war probe

GGS Today  (03) – US warns Sri Lanka over war investigation standards

I don’t think you can sweep it under the carpet. If you look at long standing cases like what happened in Serbia and cases like that, eventually people were brought to justice for crimes that were committed. Again, it’s important for the government to deal with these matters, and again, we hope that the government will do so itself and do so in a credible manner, in a manner that is consistent with international standards. So we’ve always received assurances from the government that they would do so. We hope that’s the case.

Click here to read full transcript of Robert O Blake’s interview on Sri Lanka

Amnesty wants Mahinda investigated

January 20, 2011 Comments Off on Amnesty wants Mahinda investigated

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Amnesty International Calls on the United States to
Investigate Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa
During his Surprise Visit to the United States

Contact: AIUSA media relations office, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) The United States should investigate Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa, who arrives on a surprise visit to the United States today, for his alleged role in perpetrating torture and war crimes, Amnesty International said today.

Rajapaksa reportedly left Sri Lanka early Wednesday morning with a delegation of 20 bound for the United States.

“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.

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.

The president’s visit comes as a Panel of Experts appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon works on a report advising him on accountability issues in Sri Lanka. Both Sri Lankan government forces and members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are accused of having committed war crimes in the final phase of the decades-long conflict.

Amnesty International has called for the United Nations to initiate an international investigation.

“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.

In December Wikileaks exposed a secret United States Embassy cable sent by 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 International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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US officials want a SL war crimes investigation

December 18, 2010 Comments Off on US officials want a SL war crimes investigation

AFP (18/12) –  US lawmakers urge Sri Lanka rights probe

Dozens of US lawmakers on Friday urged a global probe into alleged rights violations by Sri Lanka in the last stages of its civil war, saying Colombo’s own efforts do not ensure accountability.

In letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 17 senators and 30 members of the House of Representatives called for the United States to seek a United Nations role investigating last year’s finale of the Tamil Tiger insurgency.

17 US Senators back a war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka

December 13, 2010 Comments Off on 17 US Senators back a war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka

Tamilnet (10/12) – US Senators call for Independent International Investigations

Seventeen United States Senators, in a letter sent to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urged her to “call for an independent international investigation into the allegations of gross human rights violations that occurred during the country’s 25-year civil war.” Coinciding with the week following release of WikiLeaks cable which revealed the Colombo-based US diplomats’ view that “responsibility for many alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka,” the letter follows the August letter sent by 58 members of Congress urging the Obama administration to push for an independent international investigation into alleged war crimes that occurred during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

SL dismisses US report

March 15, 2010 Comments Off on SL dismisses US report

The Government of Sri Lanka has dismissed the US Human Rights report on Sri Lanka on the same day the International Bar Association (IBA) voiced alarm over reports that human rights activists and reporters are being intimidated in Sri Lanka.

Reuters : Sri Lanka slams U.S. rights report

Sri Lanka dismissed a U.S. State Department report on Monday accusing it of violating citizens’ rights, saying the allegations were unsubstantiated and based on reports by unnamed sources.

“The document is a conflation of historical background, repetition of statements in earlier reports, unverified assertions of facts and broad generalizations,” said a statement by the Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights.

Read US Human Rights Report on Sri Lanka here

BBC : Lawyers alarmed over ‘rights abuse’ in Sri Lanka

A panel of international lawyers says it is alarmed over reports that human rights activists and reporters are being intimidated in Sri Lanka.

US slams SL human rights record

March 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

2009 Human Rights Report: Sri Lanka
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 11, 2010

Outside of the conflict zone, the overwhelming majority of victims of human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings and disappearances, were young male Tamils…[and] observers linked the government closely to paramilitary groups believed responsible for serious human rights violations…

There were also reports of secret government facilities where suspected LTTE sympathizers were taken, tortured, and often killed

The government required Tamils who wished to move within the country, especially those Tamils living in Jaffna, to obtain special passes issued by security forces

Security forces at army checkpoints in Colombo frequently harassed Tamils. After the government assumed effective control of the east, both the government and the TMVP operated checkpoints that impeded the free movement of residents, especially Tamils

Tamils throughout the country, but especially in the conflict-affected north and east, reported frequent harassment of young and middle-aged Tamil men by security forces and paramilitary groups

Download full report here

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