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In Singapore, a criminal complaint accusing Gotabaya Rajapaksa of committing “war crimes” has been lodged

WorldIn Singapore, a criminal complaint accusing Gotabaya Rajapaksa of committing "war crimes" has been lodged

A human rights organisation based in South Africa has lodged a criminal complaint with Singapore, demanding the arrest of Sri Lanka’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his role in the island nation’s decades-long civil war against the LTTE. The conflict was fought between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Gotabaya, who is currently in Singapore after fleeing his country in the face of public revolt against his government for mismanaging the economy and who served as the defence secretary during his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure as president from 2005 to 2014, is currently in Singapore. The public revolt against Gotabaya’s government was precipitated by the government’s mismanagement of the economy.

Gotabaya’s role in ending the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) with the death of its supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009 is quite divisive, despite the fact that he has been dubbed the “war hero.” He is accused of violating human rights, which is a charge that he vehemently denies. The conflict with the LTTE was ended with the death of Prabhakaran

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, age 73, is accused of committing war crimes, and lawyers from the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) in South Africa have filed a criminal complaint against him with the Attorney General of Singapore, urging that he be arrested immediately.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa is accused of committing serious violations of the Geneva Conventions during the civil war in 2009, when he was serving as secretary of defence. According to the 63-page complaint, these offences are eligible for domestic prosecution in Singapore under the principle of universal jurisdiction because they fall under the purview of Singaporean law.

According to a statement that was released by the rights organisation on Sunday, the ITJP application to the Attorney General requests for the arrest of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as well as an inquiry and indictment of him.

The dossier that was turned in focused on him mostly in his capacity as secretary of defence for Sri Lanka at the time when the country’s civil war came to an end in 2009.

During the course of the civil conflict in Sri Lanka, the legal complaint alleges that Gotabaya Rajapaksa committed serious violations of both international humanitarian law and international criminal law. These offences were perpetrated in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Extensive evidence has been presented to support the contention that Rajapaksa gave direct orders over the phone to his old comrades in the military, whom he had promoted to the rank of major general in order to command the offensive, and that he watched the action of the battle unfold live in the command centre via surveillance and drone footage.

The dossier that was turned in by the ITJP contains accounts of repeated and deliberate strikes by the army on civilians who were sheltering in earthen bunkers. These civilians were killed while waiting in line for food or receiving first aid treatment while lying on the floor of makeshift clinics in hellish conditions.

Alexandra Lily Kather was one of the international lawyers who brought the complaint to the attention of the Singaporean authorities.

This presents Singapore with a chance to utilise its own laws in the pursuit of justice and to safeguard the globe from a guy who has a horrifying history of committing severe breaches of human rights against all of the many groups that make up Sri Lanka. Visas should not be granted to repeat offenders until they have been brought to justice. In 2019, the International Transitional Justice Project (ITJP) collaborated with an international law firm called Hausfeld LLP to provide assistance to 11 victims of torture who wanted to pursue a civil complaint against Rajapaksa in the state of California.

Following his election as President in 2019 and subsequent acquisition of immunity as head of state, the lawsuit against him was dropped. Since he has stepped down from his position, he is no longer entitled to the protection afforded by that immunity. According to what we know, this is the very first criminal complaint that has been filed against him.

Kenneth Jeyaretnam, a lawmaker on the opposition side in Singapore, expressed his approval of the request for Rajapaksa to be detained, probed, and prosecuted in the country.

According to Jeyaretnam, “the international community must now apply maximum pressure to ensure that the Rajapaksas are brought to justice and that Singapore moves up to meet its international commitments.”

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