It has been reported in the UK media that the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has instructed leading legal firm Birnberg, Peirce & Partners in respect of bringing a Judicial Review claim against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ refusal to declare Major General Prasanna Silva and his family personae non grata.
We also learn that the War Crimes Unit of the Great Scotland Yard (Metropolitan Police) has opened a file in readiness to investigate these allegations levelled upon the war veteran.
This comes at a time when the Government of Sri Lanka is in a confused state post the passing of the resolution against Sri Lanka at the recently concluded UNHRC session in Geneva. We are reliably informed that the timing of this case was planned, months ago but GTF failed to obtain some key evidences on time to lodge this proceeding whilst the UNHRC was in session.
Analysts say that if GTF has launched this legal proceeding during the session, there was a possibility that some of the 15 countries which voted against the resolution could have at worst be settled for abstention. A few European countries and an Asian country were aware of this attempt and have given the green light for it to go ahead sooner rather than later. However the key evidence arrived late for GTF to proceed. We are told that some photos and a short video evidence were received from exiled ex-military personnel which incriminate Major General. These new evidence will be placed in front of a judge soon once the immunity issue is resolved, one source who is close to the GTF told us in confidence.
This attempt by the GTF follows their previous attempt against Major General Chagi Gallage in a diplomatic debacle when President Rajapaksa had to exit the UK in disgrace in December 2010. President Rajapaksa and his entourage which consisted Major General Chagi Gallage leading the President’s security, had to leave London two days earlier than planned in a chartered flight to avoid the embarrassment of facing potential arrest for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity charges.
In a quote reported to have been of the GTF, the UK Guardian reports that The Global Tamil Forum told the Guardian that the diaspora would take legal action against anyone suspected of involvement in war crimes. "Every alleged war criminal of Sri Lanka must know that the Tamils will not rest until justice is served for the terrible crimes they are alleged to have committed," he said.
"This along with other legal proceedings must send a message to the regime that they are not welcome on the international scene. There remain other alleged war criminals in Australia and in New York where we will start proceedings soon."
During October 2011, in Australia Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to Australia, former admiral Thisara Samarasinghe was accused of war crimes, a brief before the Australian Federal Police said.
The submission, from the International Commission of Jurists' Australian section, was compiled what a source told the Herald is direct and credible evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Sri Lanka Navy. There are witnesses - Sri Lankans now living in Australia - who can attest to the alleged crimes, the source said.
The timing of that allegation was to coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting, known as CHOGM in Perth, Australia. Maximum coverage was given to this attempt during CHOGM not just in Australia but worldwide.
Major General Shavendra Silva was accused and charges were brought against him last year in a New York court by a Tamil leaning human rights organisation called SPEAK. Major General Jageth Diaz had to run for cover, claimed the Tamil Diaspora and human rights organisations, when charges were discussed with the Swiss Foreign Ministry and on their advice the General had to make a hasty exit from Switzerland.
It is also a known fact that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the defence secretary had to cancel a planned trip to the US for a planned wedding reception of his son, last year. Although speculated at the time, it is now known that the State Department advised the defence secretary that the Tamil Diaspora may be planning to charge him for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
These actions show determination and perseverance from the Diaspora to track down and target military personnel and ex-military personnel holding diplomatic positions. Considering the 2012 Olympics will be held in London and many heads of states and senior politicians will be in attendance at the opening and/or closing ceremonies, the Presidential advisory panel in Colombo must be working overtime to devise a strategy to avoid visiting London, in July 2012. We are reliably informed that the President will avoid these ceremonies and his son Namal Rajapaksa will represent the country.