Sri Lanka president accepts proposal to legalise impunity (VIDEO)

Recommendations to legalise impunity for Sri Lankan defence officials have been handed over to the president by a group of ex military commanders led by the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The alarming recommendation is prominent in a report authored by the former president's sibling, wartime defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and retired commanders of the army, navy and air force.

Authors say that the report is aimed at strengthening the country's military setup following the Easter Sunday Massacre.

On Friday (3), President Maithripala Sirisena received the report urging to adopt special laws, which guarantee immunity from prosecution for members of the military - especially those in intelligence units.

'Protection for intel officers'

Sri Lanka security forces, who have been implicated in serious human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, abductions, disappearances, torture and sexual violence, are yet to be prosecuted.

"We exclusively call to implement a law that provides protection for executing military duties, especially for officers and people in intelligence," Gotabaya Rajapaksa told journalists in Colombo.

Ex Navy Commander Jayanath Colombage confirmed the demand calling to provide impunity to military officers "performing their duty". However, the former defence heads did not make it clear what 'duties' the report refers to.

The report is yet to be made public.

Former army and navy commanders who are facing criminal prosecution in Sri Lanka and abroad for gross human rights violations are among the authors of the report.

Ex defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself has been slammed with two lawsuits in the US for the alleged murder of a journalist and torture of a Tamil based in Canada.

The government has been heavily criticised for not delivering commitments on holding its military accountable for war crimes and gross human rights violations.

'Culture of impunity'

Sri Lanka has a history of legalising impunity twice.

In 1982 it adopted the Indemnity Act (No. 20 of 1982) restricting  legal action against any state official who did not take steps to contain widespread disorder and lawlessness in the country.

Military and police who committed mass atrocities in defeating the Sinhala youth uprising in the late eighties were saved by the Indemnity (Amendment) Act (No. 60 of 1988).

Tamil victims of Sri Lanka's 30 year old war that killed an estimated 70,000 and  disappeared tens of thousands, as well as international watchdogs including the UN have repeatedly urged the government to end its culture of impunity.☐



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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